George Whitman & Shakespeare And Company

Shakespeare & Company, Paris, George Whitman

Shakespeare And Company - September 2010 - Elizabeth Harper (In Red)

I was sad to read this morning that George Whitman had died, but as he was 98 and appeared to have lived the life he wanted almost to the end, I think my sad feelings were more out of concern for the end of an era than the death of a man I had not met.

His only child, Sylvia Beach Whitman has been managing the famous bookstore for some time and I imagine it will continue to be a haven for those who wish to pop in to an English-speaking bookstore while in Paris.

I’ve been fortunate to visit Paris four times, the first of which was when I was 19 in late December 1979. I remember being focused on seeing the Louvre and Notre-Dame and excited to be in Paris for New Year’s Eve, but I don’t remember stopping by Shakespeare And Company at that time.

Shakespeare And Company - February 2009 - Elizabeth Harper (In Brown)

Ten years later I went back to Paris with my then 12 year-old daughter, Miranda for the millennium New Year celebration and made time to visit the bookstore and have the wet looking photo below taken while I was there.

Shakespeare & Company - December 1999

There’s generally a lot of activity both inside and out of Shakespeare And Company and the photo above gives you a glimpse of what I’m talking about. I always love sneaking a peek over the shoulders of artists who stop to paint and over to the left you can see another part of the bookstore which deals with antiquarian books.

Notice the man dressed in white … I thought he looked a bit like author, Tom Wolfe.

Speaking of artists, that’s my talented sister Margaret coming though the door having just made a purchase. I always look for something special when I’m there. I particularly like the stamp you can get when you buy a book.

Shakespeare And Company Stamp

There’s an inscription I can’t read in my book and I thought maybe one of my French-speaking friends could help out with a translation.

The bookstore is full of quirky places that I did not photograph, but this blogger has some great interior shots.

Ahhh … the side with the books I covet, but can’t afford.

 Sigh …

Thanks to my Paris based friend, Kim who alerted me to the death of George Whitman on Facebook with a link to this great NYTimes article on his life and passing.

Happy New Year – 10 Years Ago Today

Ten years ago today people were worried about what might happen as the clocks rolled over into 2000. I had bigger fears than Y2K back then, but even so I tried to focus on the moments and the experiences of my daily life placing more value on creating a portfolio of memories than banking it all for a mega big retirement plan. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done the traditional things as well, investing in property and my 401K, but by far the best rewards in my later years will be the experiences I’ve shared with the people I love.

This was Paris in 2000, with us standing under a damp winter sky in front of the Eiffel Tower where I took my daughter Miranda in hopes of adding to her portfolio of special moments and memories.

Here’s to creating new memories in 2010 and building a retirement fund of a lasting kind … our connections to each other and the fearless pursuit of life worth living.