Louise Brooks: she could have stepped out of the past and not looked out of place in the modern world. She was a brilliant actress and also a writer.
Monthly Archives: December 2012
Happy Christmas to all the people who read my blog and to those who contribute. Special thanks to my dear friend Bianca Washington, photographer, for her beautiful and unusual photographs. And to photographer Kirsty Mitchell for her generosity in allowing the use of her exquisite photographs on my blog.
Thanks to everyone for your great support.
Filed under A Writer’s Notebook
Shakespeare and Company
Take a visit to Shakespeare and Company if you are lucky enough to be in Paris.
SHAKESPEARE & COMPANY
EVENTS AT A GLANCE
Monday 3rd December 7pm
Humpty Dumpty Publishing presents Topsy Turvy Tales Monday 10th December 7pm
Launch of The White Review No.6
Thursday 13th December 6pm
Talk and tasting with Marc Grossman Tuesday 18th December 7pm
Storyteller Rachel Rose Reid
Wednesday 19th December 3pm
Children’s Hour with Kate Stables
Winter is closing in on the December streets and the darkening evenings are lit earlier by the old street lamps and new fairy lights. The City of Light comes into its own in the gloaming and architecture that is beautiful under blue skies is imbued with a new kind of magic at night. There is something magical, too, about entering the bookshop on a cold, dark evening, coming into the soft glow and cosy warmth. In the run up to Christmas, we have an array of wonderful events to tempt you in from the cobbles… macabre tales; new doyens of the literary magazine scene The White Review; a talk and tasty treats from the creator of Bob’s Kitchen and Juice Bar; wild and dreamy tales from a master storyteller…
This December also marks the one year anniversary of George Whitman’s death, and the 99 year anniversary of his birth. Shakespeare and Company is so absolutely entwined with the vision and personality of this man, who created the shop like a man would write a novel that his absence is inevitably felt. However, though he no longer lives as a figurehead above the shop, he is everywhere — wherever there are books and people and generosity and oddity and ideas. And he is nowhere more so than in Sylvia, his daughter, who has taken on his creation with an energy and imagination of her own. Today the shop is more alive than ever — we host a vibrant weekly schedule of readings, film screenings and concerts; Tumbleweeds — the young writers who live for free among the books — continue to tumble in as they have done for the past 60 or so years; and, as we continue to work on the history book project, mining the archives in the shop as it is today, we are moved by the largeness of what George achieved, and its continuing relevance. George liked to describe himself as the frère lampier, the lamp lighter, and Shakespeare and Company continues to be lit up, a beacon calling out to people all over the world.
Don’t forget, if you are unable to come to a particular event and want a signed copy of one of the author’s books (we can also post it to you) please email Alice.
Most events take place upstairs in the library (40 seats), on the ground level (50 seats) or outside in front of the bookshop. During the events, the sound from the reading and discussions is projected around the entire bookshop. We recommend you arrive 15–30 minutes early to try to get a seat as there is limited space.
MONDAY 3RD DECEMBER 7PM
Topsy Turvy Tales is an illustrated gift book of tales by Charlotte Boulay-Goldsmith and Laura Hyde of new and exciting, all female publishing company Humpty Dumpty Publishing, who team together writers and illustrators to publish exquisite and affordable gift books with a twist. Topsy Turvy Tales is a beautifully produced hardback with a black and white screen printed cover and a strong emphasis on playfulness of layout and graphics. Dark and twisted, heart-warming and fun, it has a Tim Burton and Edward Gorey quality.
For this festive event, Charlotte and Laura will be around if you’d like your copy signed and, upstairs, two of the tales from the book which have been adapted into animations, narrated by Maryam d’Abo and Bill Nighy, will be screened. There will also be wine, cupcakes from the excellent Bertie’s Cupcakery, live music by Lady Merxck and other surprises!
Review by Philip Colbert for Pas un Autre
Review by Laura Bailey for Vogue
MONDAY 10TH DECEMBER 7PM
Please join us to celebrate the launch of The White Review No. 6, notably featuring interviews with China Mieville, Julia Kristeva and Edmund de Waal, fiction by Helen DeWitt, essays on J. H. Prynne and Bela Tarr, artwork by Matt Connors and poetry by Emily Berry.
To mark the release of this new edition, editors Jacques Testard and Benjamin Eastham have put together a panel to discuss the past, present and future of literary magazines, including Christian Lorentzen (Senior Editor at the London Review of Books and editor of Say What You Mean: The n+1 Anthology), Craig Taylor (Five Dials, and the author of Londoners), Heather Hartley (Paris editor of Tin House) and Krista Halverson (former managing editor of Zoetrope).
THURSDAY 13TH DECEMBER 6PM
New York expat Marc Grossman, the creator of Bob’s Juice Bar (10e) and Bob’s Kitchen (3e) and author of several popular cookbooks, will be celebrating the release of his latest cookbook New York — Les Recettes Culte (ed. Marabout) at Shakespeare and Company. With over one hundred recipes across a wide range of sweet and savoury foods, New York — Les Recettes Culte is Marc’s largest and most ambitious book to date. “It’s everything I crave when I feel homesick,” says Marc. Stunning photos by Akiko Ida and Pierre Javell, as well as illustrations by Jane Teasdale, make this book as visually engrossing as it is appetizing. For the book signing, Marc has promised to personally prepare pies and other treats from the book. We cannot wait!
TUESDAY 18TH DECEMBER 7PM
“Immense skill and breathless conviction… there’s no faulting Reid’s command of her craft.”
— The Times
Join Rachel Rose Reid for a winding journey through poems, stories and songs that stretch from Grecian hills to the shores of Newfoundland, from ancient worlds to the present day. Dubbed Queen of the New Wave of Storytellers (BBC Radio 3), Rachel Rose Reid’s work reflects her upbringing between folk traditions and urban jungle, bridging across the oral heritage of our ancestors and the spoken word of today. She is currently Writer in Residence at the Dickens Museum in London and this year has also written and performed commissions for BBC Radio, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Billy Bragg’s centenary tribute to Woody Guthrie. So come along one and all and be enchanted on a cold winter’s night…
Rachel Rose Reid on Twitter / Facebook
WEDNESDAY 19TH DECEMBER 3PM
Children’s Hour — music, rhythm and stories for kids: Bring your children (2–6 year–olds, siblings welcome too) to the library at Shakespeare and Company for an hour of music, songs and stories in English (for all nationalities, even those who don’t speak English). Led by the magic Kate Stables, mum and singer/songwriter from This is the Kit, this lovely event is fast becoming an institution. There will be instruments to play and a lot of noise to make! Four euros donation appreciated.
Shakespeare and Company at Wanderlust
For two days before Christmas those fashionable folk at Wanderlust are hosting the magical Joyeux Market — so come on down to the banks of the Seine and browse for beautiful trinkets and treats from an array of fabulous stalls. We’ll be there peddling our books, along with Kusmi Tea, Millimètres, Cherry Picker, Tattyoo, Bohemian Chic, WISP wild and wicked woolies, Roger-Bontemps, Juliette Beaupin, Jicqy les Mirettes, Mamamushi, Jip, and many more.
And, after you’re all shopped out, there’s a treasure hunt, a boutique hair salon, a photomaton, mulled wine, boulles, a barbecue, and much more to enjoy!
Saturday 15th December 2pm–11pm
Sunday 16th December 11am–7pm
5€ full price / 3€ student rate
Free for those under 12 Wanderlust, 32 quai d’Austerlitz, 75013 Paris
Joyeux Market at Wanderlust
STAFF AND TUMBLEWEED PICKS
THE YELLOW BIRDS BY KEVIN POWERS
The author’s first novel and clearly a very autobiographical account of a 21 year old soldier’s journey from the US training camps to fighting in Iraq in 2004. It explores the daily lives of soldiers, the fear and fatigue, their ambivalent attitude toward death: “nothing seemed more natural than someone getting killed.”
This is a story of friendship and loss and the often psychologically traumatic transition “back home” for many soldiers. It has been hailed as the All Quiet on the Western Front of America’s Arab wars. Immediately striking because of its poetic style, brilliantly structured, a style similar to Cormac McCarthy and Hemingway. I urge everyone to read it! Here’s a little taster from the first few pages: “While we slept, the war rubbed its thousand ribs against the ground in prayer. When we pressed onward through exhaustion, its eyes were white and open in the dark. While we ate, the war fasted, fed by its deprivation. It made love and gave birth and spread through fire.” — Sylvia
CONSTELLATION OF GENIUS BY KEVIN JACKSON
Constellation of Genius is the biography of modernism’s great year: 1922. Revolving around the two heavenly bodies of the modernist era — Eliot and Joyce — Jackson’s book works its way through the calendar months to highlight those events — jazz concerts, barfights and club openings included — that set the clock going on the 20th century’s greatest movement. A good read and great point of reference. — Terry
THE FINGERSMITH BY SARAH WATERS
This is Dickens with a twist — or, rather, many twists — a true page turner with orphans, mad houses, pickpockets, double dealings, and even dirty books. I’d hate to spoil anything, so I’ll keep this short: Poor and lowly orphan Sue Trinder is persuaded by a group of thieves to trick lonely, isolated heiress Maud Lilly into accepting her as a lady’s maid in order to gain access to Maud’s vast fortune. Their plan succeeds, for a while. — Krista
THE WIVES: THE WOMEN BEHIND RUSSIA’S LITERARY GIANTS BY ALEXANDRA POPOFF
Here is the picture described by Russian poet Nadhezda Volpin: “(…) Vladimir (Nabokov) would get out of a car with just a chess set and his butterfly collection while Vera would follow lugging two suitcases.” This scene is a perfect representation of what the lives of Anna Dostoyevsky, Sophia Tolstoy, Nadhiezda Mandelstam, Vera Nabokov, Elena Bulgakov and Natalia Solzhenitsyn were like. From giving inspiration and stimulation to acting as a technical help, the contribution of the wives of the greatest Russian writers to their work is remarkable and still very unrecognized by the majority of readers.
Alexandra Popoff gives us a complete and fascinating portrait written with empathy, admiration and an impressive knowledge of the women who sacrificed their lives, intellects, talents and ambitions in the name of literature, art, history and, of course, love. — Karolina
THE THIEF’S JOURNAL BY JEAN GENET
Jean Genet was the true enfant terrible of the twentieth century French literary scene. A thief, a vagrant, a beggar and unashamed homosexual lover of conmen and convicts, he gleefully inverted the virtues of his time and elevated vice to a pedestal. Yet in doing so and writing of his experiences in elegant, cut-glass prose Genet exposed an essential truth of the world that could not be easily belied, and led his contemporary Jean-Paul Sartre to call The Thief’s Journal “the most beautiful that Genet has written”. Arguably, Genet as a writer lies in anglophone culture as subservient to more famous classic French writers such as Camus or even Sartre himself, but as we the readers follow his autobiographical vagabond journey through Europe in this novel we begin to bond with his subversive outlook on society. As we do so we cut through the swathes of artificiality our own worlds might still be bound in now, and find a greater, more pertinent sense of our own concepts of art and life and love. — Patrick
AND SOME LOVELY CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS
POLPO: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) by Russell Norman Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (cookbook)
Postcards from Penguin (100 bookjackets / 100 Vogue covers / 100 New Yorker covers) Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin (biography)
Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream by Neil Young (autobiography) The Golden Age of Botanical Art by Martyn Rix (non-fiction)
The James Bond Archives by Paul Duncan (boxed) Building Stories by Chris Ware (boxed graphic novel)
Both Flesh and Not by David Foster Wallace (essays) This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers (children)
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (children) Six Fairy Tales from Brothers Grimm, illustrated by David Hockney (children)
Emily Dickinson Reader by Paul Legault (humour) Dads are the Original Hipsters by Brad Getty (humour)
We also have a fantastic selection of vintage photoplay editions, both in hardback and paperback, with great covers and illustrations featuring scenes from favourite movies. Several of the scarcest titles are listed on our rare books website (along with lots of other rare gem gift ideas) and many more are available in the shop. Prices range from 7€ to 450€.
FURTHER LITERARY TIDBITS
Kevin Powers on The Yellow Birds
The future of Jewish fiction now that Philip Roth has retired
Douglas Coupland on storytelling and technology
I’m Hans Christian Anderson by Rachel Rose Reid
Beautiful ode to the life of George Whitman by Rachael Horowitz
Was Jack Kerouac really a hack?
Terry Pratchett on sex, death and nature
Interview with Orhan Pamuk
Terry Castle on Susan Sontag
Jonathan Safran Foer in The White Review
Successful film adaptations of literary classics
THE LAST WORD
“I CREATED THIS BOOKSTORE LIKE A MAN WOULD WRITE A NOVEL, BUILDING EACH ROOM LIKE A CHAPTER, AND I LIKE PEOPLE TO OPEN THE DOOR THE WAY THEY OPEN A BOOK, A BOOK THAT LEADS INTO A MAGIC WORLD IN THEIR IMAGINATIONS.”
— George Whitman
On 14th December we are planning an informal gathering in the library to celebrate the life of George Whitman and mark his passing. We will post further details on our website and Facebook page in the next week.
JOIN US on Facebook and FOLLOW us on Twitter @Shakespeare_Co for daily shop updates, event announcements, and general bookshop-in-Paris notes.
Josephine and Napoleon
Josephine de Beauharnais, a widow, had affairs with several leading political figures, including Paul François Jean Nicolas Barras. In 1795, she met General Napoléon Bonaparte, six years her junior, and became his mistress. In a letter to her in December, he wrote, ‘I awake full of you. Your image and the memory of last night’s intoxicating pleasures has left no rest to my senses.’
In January 1796, Napoléon Bonaparte proposed to her and they married on 9 March. Until meeting Bonaparte, she was known as Rose, but Bonaparte preferred to call her Joséphine, the name she adopted from then on.
The marriage was not well received by Napoléon’s family, who were shocked that he had married an older widow with two children. His mother and sisters were especially resentful of Joséphine as they felt clumsy and unsophisticated in her presence.
Two days after the wedding, Bonaparte left to lead the French army in Italy. During their separation, he sent her many love letters. In February 1797, he wrote: ‘You to whom nature has given spirit, sweetness, and beauty, you who alone can move and rule my heart, you who know all too well the absolute empire you exercise over it!’ Many of his letters are still intact today, while very few of hers have been found; it is not known whether most were lost or there weren’t very many.
Joséphine, left behind in Paris, began an affair in 1796 with a handsome Hussar lieutenant, Hippolyte Charles. Rumors of the affair reached Napoléon; he was infuriated, and his love for her changed entirely.
In 1798, Napoléon led a French army to Egypt. During this campaign, Napoléon started an affair of his own with Pauline Fourès, the wife of a junior officer, who became known as ‘Napoléon’s Cleopatra.’ The relationship between Joséphine and Napoléon was never the same after this. His letters became less loving. No subsequent lovers of Joséphine are recorded, but Napoléon had sexual affairs with several other women. In 1804, he said, ‘Power is my mistress.’
In December 1800, Joséphine was nearly killed in the Plot of the Rue Saint-Nicaise, an attempt on Napoléon’s life with a bomb planted in a parked cart. On 24 December, she and Napoleon went to see a performance of Joseph Haydn’s Creation at the Opéra, accompanied by several friends and family. The party travelled in two carriages. Joséphine was in the second, with her daughter Hortense, her pregnant sister-in-law, Caroline Murat, and General Jean Rapp. Joséphine had delayed the party while getting a new silk shawl draped correctly, and Napoléon went ahead in the first carriage. The bomb exploded as her carriage was passing. The bomb killed several bystanders and one of the carriage horses, and blew out the carriage’s windows; Hortense was struck in the hand by flying glass. There were no other injuries and the party proceeded to the Opéra.
In 1804, Napoleon used the various plots against his life to justify the re-creation of a hereditary monarchy in France with himself as Emperor Napoléon I, which would make Joséphine Empress of the French.
Shortly before their coronation, there was an incident at the Château de Saint-Cloud that nearly sundered the marriage between the two. Joséphine caught Napoléon in the bedroom of her lady-in-waiting, Elisabeth de Vaudey, and Napoléon threatened to divorce her as she had not produced an heir. Eventually, however, through the efforts of her daughter Hortense, the two were reconciled.
The coronation ceremony, officiated by Pope Pius VII, took place at Notre Dame de Paris, on 2 December 1804. Following a pre-arranged protocol, Napoléon first crowned himself, then put the crown on Joséphine’s head, proclaiming her empress.
As Empress, Joséphine was popular, known for kindness and generosity to foundlings.
When, after a few years, it became clear she could not have a child, Napoléon while he still loved Joséphine, began to think very seriously about the possibility of divorce.
The final die was cast when Joséphine’s grandson Napoleon Charles Bonaparte who had been declared Napoléon’s heir, died of croup in 1807. Napoleon began to create lists of eligible princesses. At dinner on 30 November 1809, he let Joséphine know that , in the interest of France, he must find a wife who could produce an heir. From the next room, Napoléon’s secretary heard the screams.
‘No, I can never survive it!’ Joséphine cried, and collapsed. The following day servants took her possessions to Malmaison, which was to remain her home. She continued to make public appearances as Empress, but the impending divorce was common knowledge.
Joséphine agreed to a divorce so the Emperor could remarry in the hope of having an heir. The divorce ceremony took place on 10 January 1810 and was a grand but solemn social occasion, and each read a statement of devotion to the other.
On 11 March Napoléon married Marie-Louise of Austria by proxy; the formal ceremony took place at the Louvre on 1 April. Napoléon once remarked after marrying Marie-Louise that ‘he had married a womb’.
Even after their separation Napoleon insisted Josephine retain the title of Empress. ‘It is my will that she retain the rank and title of Empress, and especially that she never doubt my sentiments, and that she ever hold me as her best and dearest friend.’
Later life and death
After the divorce, Joséphine lived at the Château de Malmaison, near Paris. She remained on good terms with Napoléon, who once said that the only thing to come between them was her debts.
In March 1811 Marie Louise delivered a long-awaited heir, to whom Napoleon gave the title ‘King of Rome’. Two years later Napoleon arranged for Joséphine to meet the young prince ‘who had cost her so many tears’.
Joséphine died of pneumonia in Rueil-Malmaison on 29 May 1814, four days after catching cold during a walk with Tsar Alexander in the gardens of Malmaison. She was buried in the nearby church of Saint Pierre-Saint Paulin Rueil. Her daughter Hortense is interred near her.
Napoleon learned of her death via a French journal while in exile on Elba, and stayed locked in his room for two days, refusing to see anyone. He claimed to a friend, while in exile on Saint Helena, that ‘I truly loved my Joséphine, but I did not respect her.’ Despite his numerous affairs, eventual divorce, and remarriage, the Emperor’s last words on his death bed at St. Helena were: ‘France, the Army, the Head of the Army, Joséphine.’
Filed under A Writer’s Notebook