that surprising and wonderful moment
when you discover
there is yet one more unread book
written by one of your favorite authors
hiding in plain sight
waiting for you to pick it up.
spent a few beautiful afternoon hours
at the kerrytown bookfest
in the ann arbor farmers market
on this day
i found all kinds of wonders
new and used books
loved the gunslingers section
illustrators proud of their work
fellow book loving shoppers
passionate authors of all kinds
so many, many words
“reading is an exercise in empathy;
an exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes for a while.”
The Historic Parisian Bookshop Where Aspiring Writers Can Spend the Night for Free
Shakespeare and Company opened its doors back in 1951, and ever since then, it’s hosted aspiring writers for free. And it’s not always just for a night, sometimes, guests stay for months, and they don’t have to pay a penny. The Parisian literary hub may be the only bookshop in the world of its kind.
More than 30,000 guests have stayed at the bookshop since American expat George Whitman opened it over six decades ago, and many of them have even gone on to become international best sellers.
Molly Dektar, who lived at Shakespeare and Company in January and June 2013, wrote about the experience: “I aimed to read a book a day but it wasn’t entirely possible. Still, the goal is spiritually important and should be taken seriously. One minute I was a visitor just like any other,” she added, “and the next minute I was welcomed in to this huge, historic community of writers and expatriates.”
Now, 65 years after the bookshop opened, the owner, Whitman’s daughter Sylvia, has released a memoir documenting its long history. Whitman was inspired by American expat Sylvia Beach, who owned a bookshop by the same name at another location, which existed between 1919 and 1941.
Beach’s bookshop had been a popular and frequent gathering place for legendary writers like Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald and T S Eliot. She had also been the first to publish James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922.
Whitman had called his version of the bookshop a “spiritual successor” and it quick became the center of expat life in Paris for the book writing crowd. As he’d been the recipient of the generosity of strangers while traveling the world, he decided that he wanted to do the same for other travelers. Since the start, his store has hosted overnight guests he refers to as “Tumbleweeds.” Instead of paying for their stay, the “Tumbleweeds” are just required to help out in the shop for a few hours, write a one-page autobiography for the archives and “read a book a day.” Quite the deal!
While Whitman passed away five years ago, his daughter Sylvia is continuing to carry on the tradition and runs the bookshop with her partner, David Delannet.
Today, as many as six Tumbleweeds can sleep in the bookshop each night, but it now also hosts an adjoining cafe, a literary festival and a publishing arm of Shakespeare and Company, which just released a book on the history of the company.
Of the book, Delannet said, “This history offers readers a unique perspective on Paris, as well as an insight into the life of the literary traveler in the second half of the 20th century and a feel for a bookshop whose motto is ‘Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise.'”
credits: earthables, molly dektar, buzzfeed
They’ve both got big anniversaries this year:
2016 marks 100 years since Roald Dahl’s birth, and 400 years since Shakespeare’s death. That means 2016 is a pretty great year for celebrating the lives and works of these two world-famous writers.
They both made up some crackling words:
Shakespeare coined countless new words and phrases, many of which have found their way into common usage, including ‘wild goose chase’, ‘laughing stock’, and ‘heart of gold’. Roald Dahl invented quite a few words of his own, especially while writing The BFG – who can forget snozzcumber, gigglehouse and exunkly?
Both authors have their very own dictionaries, both published by Oxford University Press. The Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary and The Gobblefunk Dictionary (coming in June).
Can you tell which of the following 5 words are Roald Dahl words, and which 5 are Shakespeare words?
Babblement, Smilets, Bubukles, Crumpscoddle, Pulsidge,
Vizaments, Squizzled, Twangling, Bootboggler, Sossel.
(Answers at the bottom of the page!)
They both have links to the Royal Shakespeare Company:
Set up in 1875 the Royal Shakespeare Company was established to inspire a lifelong love of William Shakespeare and to produce new plays and productions. In 2010 the RSC’s production of Matilda the Musical based on Roald Dahl’s Matilda, premiered at The Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, before moving to the West End in 2011. This record-breaking, award-winning musical is still going strong, made its way to Broadway in 2013 and toured Australia in 2015.
They are both loved worldwide:
Shakespeare is well and truly international. According to The British Council his works have been translated into over 100 languages (including Klingon), and performed worldwide – Romeo and Juliet has been performed in 24 countries in the last 10 years alone!
Roald Dahl books have been translated into 58 languages including Norwegian, Welsh and Japanese, but not Klingon… yet. During his lifetime Roald Dahl stuck a pin in a world map every time he received fan mail from a new place. Far flung destinations included Sao Paulo, Beijing, Addis Ababa and Windhoek.
Roald’s Fan Map
They are both top ten borrowed authors:
Both Roald Dahl and Shakespeare are very popular with library goers it would seem. The Public Lending Right lists Roald Dahl as the number 1 most borrowed classic author in 2015, with Shakespeare taking tenth place. Not bad!
They’re big on the big screen:
Many of Shakespeare’s plays have been made into movies. According to the BFI the first Shakespeare film was made in 1899. Since then there have been countless film versions and adaptations including William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (1996), West Side Story (1961), and 10 Things I Hate About You (1999).
There have been some great film adaptations of Roald Dahl’s books too, Including Matilda, Fantastic Mr Fox, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The BFG is coming to cinemas this July.
You can visit their home towns:
Two places you must definitely visit are The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire and Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Roald Dahl lived in the village of Great Missenden for 36 years and wrote all of his children’s books in his Writing Hut in the bottom of his garden. The Museum is housed in an old coaching inn on the High Street, you can’t miss it – look for the painted BFG on the front.
William Shakespeare lived in Henley Street in Stratford from the time of his birth until he was old enough to marry. Visitors can tread in his footsteps in the house he lived in, for millions of enthusiasts worldwide this house is a shrine.
Some of their stories are rooted in folklore:
Witches, magic, sprites and mysterious creatures appear in work by Roald Dahl and Shakespeare, and almost certainly rooted in folklore. Roald Dahl’s Norwegian heritage may have influenced his stories about jumbly giants and witches. His first story for children The Gremlins was inspired by RAF folklore which held that little creatures were responsible for the various mechanical failures on aeroplanes.
Shakespeare plays feature similar characters: Titania in Midsummer Night’s Dream, the sorcere Prospero, and the witches in Macbeth. Even Hamlet is borrowed from an old Scandinavian tale.
Roald Dahl = Babblement, Crumpscoddle, Squizzled, Bootboggler, Sossel.
William Shakespeare = Smilets, Bubukles, Pulsidge, Vizaments, Twangling.
credits: roald dahl museum