The characters referenced in Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris” (Part 22, Silvia Beach and the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore)

File:Shakespeare and Company store in Paris.jpg

I love the movie “Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen and I have been going through the characters referenced in the movie. Yesterday I spent time on a place (Versailles) and today I will do likewise. Silvia Beach ran a book store in the 1920’s that is featured in the movie.  Below is some information on that store from Wikipedia:

Shakespeare and Company is an independent bookstore located in the 5th arrondissement, in Paris’s Left Bank. Originally established in 1919 by Sylvia Beach, in the 1920s the store was a gathering place for writers such as Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, William S. Burroughs, James Joyce and Ford Madox Ford. Shakespeare and Company serves as both a bookstore and a reading library, specializing in English-language literature. The current store is named after and in honor of the earlier store which closed during World War II.

The shop was featured in the Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris.[1]

Shakespeare and Company Poets Corner

File:Shakespeare and Company Poets Corner.jpg

Sylvia Beach, an American expatriate from New Jersey established Shakespeare and Company in 1919 on 8 rue Dupuytren. The store functioned as a lending library as well as a bookstore.[2] Beach moved to a larger location at 12 rue de l’Odéon in 1921, where the store remained until 1941. During this period, the store was considered the center of Anglo-American literary culture and modernism in Paris. Writers and artists of the “Lost Generation,” such as Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, George Antheil, Man Ray and James Joyce spent a great deal of time at Shakespeare and Company. The books were considered high quality and reflected Beach’s own literary taste. Shakespeare and Company, as well as its literary denizens, was mentioned in Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. Patrons could buy or borrow books like D. H. Lawrence’s controversial Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which had been banned in England and the United States.

Beach initially published Joyce’s book Ulysses in 1922, which was banned in the United States and in the United Kingdom. Subsequent editions of Ulysses were published under the Shakespeare and Company imprint in later years.[3]

The Shakespeare and Company store on rue de l’Odeon was closed in December 1941, due to the occupation of France by the Axis powers during World War II. It is alleged the store may have been ordered shut because Beach denied a German officer the last copy of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. The store at rue de l’Odéon never re-opened.

[edit] George Whitman Years

In 1951, another English-language bookstore was opened in Paris’s Left Bank by an American George Whitman, under the name of Le Mistral. Much like the original Shakespeare and Company, the store served as a focal point for literary culture in Bohemian, Left Bank Paris. Upon Sylvia Beach’s death, the store’s name was changed to Shakespeare and Company. In the 1950s, the shop served as a base for many of the writers of the Beat Generation, such as Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and William S. Burroughs. Whitman’s daughter, Sylvia, now runs the shop. The store continues to operate at 37 rue de la Bûcherie, near Place St. Michel and steps from the Seine River and Notre Dame and the Île de la Cité. The bookstore is located in a building that served as a monastery in the 16th century.[4]

George Whitman calls the bookstore “a socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore”. Customers have included the likes of Henry Miller and Richard Wright. The bookstore includes sleeping facilities, with 13 beds, and Whitman claims as many as 40,000 people have slept in the shop over the years.[5]

Regular activities that occur in the bookshop are Sunday tea, poetry readings and writers’ meetings.[6]

[edit] Sylvia Beach Whitman years

George Whitman’s daughter, Sylvia Whitman, has now taken over the day-to-day running of the shop, and continues to run the store in the same manner as her father allowing young writers to live and work in the shop.[7]

She has also started a biennial literary festival, FestivalandCo, which has hosted such writers as Paul Auster, Siri Hustvedt, Jeanette Winterson, Jung Chang and Marjane Satrapi.[8][9]

Seeing Paris #1 1920s

A tour of the landmarks of Paris in the 1920’s by Burton Holmes. Burton Holmes looks over boulevard from balcony, Avenue de Opera, Opera Garnier, traffic, Cafe de la Paix, restaurant, waiters, outdoor cafe, men strolling in straw hats, sailors, newstand, shoe shine, Porte St denis, Porte St. Martin, Bastille Day celebration, parade, policemen, WWI soldiers marching with rifles, horse cavalry, Lafayette statue, Parc Monceau, reflecting pool. For more about Burton Holmes visit For licensing information contact

Review: Midnight in Paris

By Debbie Cerdaon June 9, 2011 – 10:00am in

Mdnight in Paris

I’ve always disclaimed being a fan of Woody Allen — not just because of his neurotic portrayals, but also his writing in Annie Halland Manhattan. I couldn’t relate and felt alienated from the New Yorker culture and mentality. In all fairness I’ll admit I thoroughly enjoyed several of his period pieces including Radio Days, The Purple Rose of Cairo and Bullets Over Broadway.

With an impending long-awaited vacation to Europe looming at the end of the month for me and my fiance, I was intrigued to get a preview via Allen of “The City of Light” in his latest movie, Midnight in Paris, which was the opening-night film at Cannes this year. Ironically, Allen’s ability to capture a subculture that not everyone can relate to is what I adore about this film — only instead the group is the “Lost Generation” of writers, painters and musicians who flocked to Paris in the 1920s for inspiration. Allen addresses his love letter to Paris with an extended opening sequence of Parisian monuments and locations including the River Seine, Cathedral of Notre Dame, Les Champs Elysees and the obligatory Eiffel Tower aglow at night.

Midnight in Paris centers around Gil (Owen Wilson), a successful Hollywood screenwriter who wants to move to Paris and write his great novel, inspired by his literary hero, Ernest Hemingway. Gil’s over-privileged fiance, Inez (Rachel McAdams), has different plans that include a house in Malibu, not a relocation to France.  While on vacation in Paris with Inez’s parents John (Kurt Fuller) and Helen (Mimi Kennedy), the couple bicker over Gil’s romanticism. Inez’s snobbish academic friend Paul (Michael Sheen) pontificates, “Nostalgia is a denial of a painful present.”

Escaping from a stuffy dinner and conversation with the staunch Republican John and judgmental Helen, Gil takes a walk through the streets of Paris. On a dark street at the stroke of midnight, a vintage car pulls up alongside Gil and the occupants invite him to join them for festivities. On arriving at what would appear to be a costume party, Gil is introduced to the Fitzgeralds — F. Scott (Tom Hiddleston) and Zelda (Allison Pill) — while Cole Porter (Yves Heck) tickles the ivories and croons to the ladies.

What happens next in Midnight in Paris can be compared to Allen’s A Midsummer’s Sex Comedy — Gil is led on a magical journey into the past as he becomes acquainted with of the icons of the Lost Generation, including Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody), and his hero, Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll) who introduces him to Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates). Much to Gil’s delight, Hemingway and Stein critique his novel. However, it is Pablo Picasso’s young mistress Adriana (Marion Cotillard) who captivates Gil with her beauty and soul. Will Gil give up his modern life to live in the age that he felt he should have been part of? Or will he return to the fiance he can’t agree with, and to hack rewrites?

To address the incredible performances of the stellar cast of Midnight in Paris would take more words than I could fit in this review. The casting of this film was phenomenal, and Allen’s direction brought out the best of so many familiar stars and lesser known actors. Wilson is the perfect choice to play a writer who has a dream come true and fumbles his way through making the best of a miracle. McAdams displays a wide range from the mildly supportive fiance to a shrewish, self-entitled brat. Mimi Kennedy and Kurt Fuller are picture-perfect Americans not understanding French culture and society, despite the fact John is doing business with the French. Bates, Brody and Stoll are endearing caricatures of the icons of a glorious age of Paris as well as literature and art, and Allison Pill is Zelda.

The lovely and talented French singer and former model Carla Bruni has a short yet memorable scene as a museum guide who is corrected by Sheen’s character on her French history facts — especially humorous since Bruni is the current First Lady of the French Republic. However, it’s Academy Award winner Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) who steals the spotlight whenever she is onscreen. Dewy-eyed and jaded, her character yearns for the Belle Epoque as Gil waxes nostalgic for her era.

The art design and production design of Midnight in Paris can be attributed to Anne Seibel (The Devil Wears Prada, Munich), who effectively captures both contemporary and 1920s Paris, from market booths in Montmartre to the Red-Light District of La Pigalle in the early 20th century. The costume design is also wondrous, whether Bates is wearing the masculine cut clothing of Gertrude Stein or Cotillard dons simple yet elegant straight-line shift dresses.

To enjoy Midnight in Paris you don’t have to be familiar with the writers and artists of the 1920s, but it certainly helps. I recognized dancer-singer Josephine Baker (Sonia Rolland) immediately, but a companion professed he didn’t know the significance of the Afro-French dancer. Hemingway was quoted as saying, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Allen’s Midnight in Paris will stay with me as I walk the streets in search of Hemingway’s haunts, wistful for the magical moments brought to the screen.

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