George Whitman, the owner of the legendary Paris bookstore Shakespeare & Co., died yesterday at the age of 98. Known for extending hospitality to writers on Parisian sojourns, Mr. Whitman’s bookstore carried on a literary dream long after that dream died. Alexander Nazaryan remembers his stay there at the New York Daily News:
I hated that it wasn’t the same Shakespeare and Company that Sylvia Beach opened in 1919, and which published James Joyce’ Ulysses three years later – I felt cheated, somehow. I hated the evocations of Henry Miller and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who lived lives of more daring that I could summon. I hated, too, the older expats who spoke of heartbreak with slightly melancholy boredom, who quoted Paul Celan as if he were an old friend, who smoked Lucky Strikes – and they all smoked Lucky Strikes, I have no idea why – without coughing.