This website is an interactive academic
tool for CEA-UNH course:
Gay Paris:
Culture, Society, & Urban Sexual Identity

CEA GlobalCampus | Spring 2009
UNH Course Code: GEN230
Credits: 3 | Location: Paris, France

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rue de L'Odéon | Booksellers

Odéonia: The Country of Books | (Paris Was a Woman) Chapter 1
_Andrea Weiss

Twenty-three year old Adrienne Monnier realized a childhood dream in November 1915 when she opened a small bookshop on the rue de l'Odéon in the sixth arrondissement. Its location in the heart of the artistic and intellectual centre of Paris was no accident:

"The Left Bank called me and even now it does not cease to call me and to keep me. I cannot imagine that I could ever leave it, any more than an organ can leave the place that is assigned to it in the body." (Adrienne Monnier)

The story began in Paris on a cold, gusty March afternoon in 1917. A shy young woman named Sylvia Beach hesitated at the door of a Left Bank bookshop and lending library, La Maison des Amis des Livres. The owner, a self-assured young French writer and publisher named Adrienne Monnier, got up quickly from her desk and drew her visitor into the shop greeting her warmly. The two talked the afternoon away, each declaring love for the language and literature of the other.

In 1921 Shakespeare and Company moved around the corner so that it was almost directly opposite Adrienne's bookshop, and Sylvia moved into Adrienne's apartment a few doors away. After that, Bryher felt that:

"there was only one street in Paris for me, the rue de l'Odéon. It is association, I suppose, but I have always considered it one of the most beautiful streets in the world. It meant naturally Sylvia and Adrienne and the happy hours that I spent in their libraries."

The sister bookshops on the rue de l'Odéon soon became a cultural centre of Europe, serving as a gathering place where writers from all over the world met, collected their post and read the latest in the proliferation of literary magazines.

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