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Shakespeare and Company, recommendations and upcoming readings for April

Shakespeare_2 George Whitman and Sylvia Beach Whitman photograph by Pascal Gely.

Owned and operated by the Whitman family since 1951, the Parisian institution Shakespeare and Company has been providing Anglophones a literary haven for decades. At 91 years of age, owner and founder George Whitman still keeps an eye on the shop with his daughter Sylvia Beach Whitman.

The shop is packed with books in every corner, nook and cranny. In addition to a great selection, they have monthly readings and the line up is very impressive.

Ms. Whitman shared with I V Y paris some of her team's recommended books for the month that correspond with this month's Paris expositions:

MARIE ANTOINETTE by Antoina Fraser
Read the wonderfully written  biography of Marie Antoinette before going to the exhibition at The Grand Palais. Antonia Fraser's lavish and engaging portrait of Marie  Antoinette, one of the most recognizable women in European history,  excites compassion and regard for all aspects of her subject,  immersing the reader not only in the coming-of-age of a graceful  woman, but also in the unraveling of an era.

As The New Yorker said,  "Absorbing as ever. Fraser's blend of insight and research persuade us  that this unfortunate queen deserves neither the vilification nor the  idealization she has received."

Marie Antoinette at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais

This is the first book of  poetry from Patti Smith in more than a decade. It marks a major  accomplishment from a poet and performer who has inscribed her vision  of our world in powerful anthems, ballads, and lyrics.

In this  intimate and searing collection, Smith joins in that great tradition  of troubadours, journeymen, wordsmiths, and artists who respond to the  world around them in fresh and original language. Her influences are  eclectic and striking: Blake, Rimbaud, Picasso, Arbus, and Johnny  Appleseed. Smith is an American original; her poems are oracles for our times.

Patti Smith at the Fondation Cartier

DOUBLE GAME by Sophie Calle
This was the first important book by  Sophie Calle to be published in English and earned fervent  international praise for its concept, content and stunning design. The  story begins with Maria, the fictional character in Paul Auster's  novel, Leviathan. Most of Maria's "works" are, in fact, based on those of Sophie Calle. The first section of Double Game takes us through the  few original works by Maria that Sophie makes her own, shown both in  their fictional context and illustrated by Calle's actual reproduction  of them.

The second section takes the story further into the heart of  Calle's world, with a series of Calle's seminal narrative and abstract  works in text and images that were appropriated by Maria in Leviathan.  The third section of the book takes the dialogue directly to Maria's  inventor, Paul Auster, who in turn takes Calle as his subject,  inventing for her the Gotham Handbook, which offers "Personal  Instructions for SC on How to Improve Life in New York City (Because  she asked...)."

Sophia Calle at the BnF

Shakespeare and Company, 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, Paris 75005   

Bonapart Paris apartments



I remember walking, with a friend, to this book shop on my first visit to PAris some years ago, climbing the stairs and just sitting on the bench staring through the window.. (and of course the little "cupboard with the type writer)... I cannot begin to express how I feel when i am there. Each visit to Paris I do the same.

( I wondered if the comedy "Black Books" was based on this shop?)

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