Sylvia's Circle by Keri Walsh
15th April 2015
First, there are the Sylvia Beach essentials: Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, Noel Riley Fitch's Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation, Richard Ellmann's James Joyce, Gertrude Stein's Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, and Sylvia's own writings (her memoir Shakespeare and Company and her collected letters). Once you've read those, you can move on to these gems, all written by her friends and associates. A few notes on this list: If you have a modernist turn of mind and haven't had the pleasure of discovering it yet, Walter Benjamin's book on Charles Baudelaire, The Writer of Modern Life, is a once-in-a-lifetime treasure (and the perfect gateway to Benjamin's Arcades Project). Samuel Beckett's poems feature his dazzling translations of French poetry; and the City Lights “Corrected Centenary edition” of Stein's Tender Buttons is pleasing to hold and to read. Richard Wright, Paul Robeson, and H.D. were among the Americans whose careers Sylvia promoted in Paris.
Keri Walsh is the editor of The Letters of Sylvia Beach. Sylvia Beach was the first publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922 and the owner of the original Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris. Professor Walsh teaches in the Department of English at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York. When her students travel to Paris, she advises them to make two pilgrimages: one to Oscar Wilde's grave, and the other to Shakespeare and Company. Her edition of James Joyce’s Dubliners is forthcoming from Broadview Press.