I started my recent article What exactly is a 'classic'? with a quote by Marc Van Doren. This was taken from Robert Giroux's Introduction to The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton which I bought the book last year in the wonderful Libraire Shakespeare English bookshop in the Rue de la Carreterie in Avignon, and then read it in the cloisters of the Benedictine Monastery of Sainte-Madeleine at Le Barroux.
La Libraire Shakespeare is owned by Wolfgang Zuckermann (photo above), author of five books and former owner of Zuckermann Harpsichords, New York. His magical shop follows the tradition of English bookshops in France first started by Sylvia Beach in Paris in 1919 with the original Shakespeare & Co.
Why do so many Americans open bookshops in France? The answer can be found in another quote from The Seven Storey Mountain (first published, remember, in 1948), this time from Thomas Merton himself: 'How does it happen that even today a couple of ordinary French stonemasons, or a carpenter and his apprentice can put up a dovecote or a barn that has more architectural perfection than the piles of eclectic stupidity that grew up at the cost hundreds of thousands of dollars on the campuses of American universities?'
* Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain is published in a Harvest Books edition, ISBN 0156010860.
* Photo of Wolfgang Zuckermann in Libraire Shakespeare linked from his website. Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
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