“Such Friends”:  100 Year Ago, January 7, 1923, Standard Examiner, Ogden, Utah; and 12 rue de l’Odeon, Paris

Ogden Standard Examiner, January 7

Today’s Sunday paper in Ogden, Utah, carries a feature story about a young American entrepreneur, native New Jersey-ian Sylvia Beach, 35, and the glamorous life she and her actress sister Cyprian, 29, are living in Paris.

The “brilliance” of their careers shines through in the English-language bookshop Sylvia runs on the Left Bank, and the films Cyprian has appeared in.

Almost a year ago, Sylvia published the avant-garde novel Ulysses by ex-patriate Irish writer James Joyce, 40, which has scandalized literary circles in the United States and abroad.

According to the article, the Beach sisters, daughters of a Presbyterian minister, are living in Paris, “riding in luxury on the crest of a wave of fame and fortune.”


Meanwhile, in Paris, business is brisk in Sylvia’s shop, Shakespeare and Company. The publication of Ulysses has definitely increased foot traffic. And those who come in to buy Ulysses usually leave with some of Joyce’s other works, as well as books by new authors they’ve discovered.

But her young Greek shop assistant has been ill for weeks, so Sylvia’s on her own most days. Joyce comes in almost every day to read sections of Ulysses to her and is planning a dinner party so he can “see” his close friends before he goes into the hospital for much-needed eye surgery.

Sylvia Beach and James Joyce

Ulysses sells well here in France, but in the UK copies have been confiscated and burned. Bookstores in the US, where excerpts from Ulysses have been declared obscene by a court, are getting impatient to receive their copies.

Through a connection with one of the young American wanna-be novelists who hang out at Shakespeare and Company, Toronto Star foreign correspondent, Ernest Hemingway, 23, Sylvia has arranged for copies to be smuggled into the US from Canada. But soon she will have to pay the expenses of the advertising guy who has been taking them into Detroit on the ferry from his office in Windsor, Ontario.

Cyprian’s film career is actually now non-existent. Being around her increasingly famous sister makes her miserable and she is thinking of permanently moving back to the States this year.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 are available at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA. They are also on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Next month I will be talking about the literary 1920s in Paris and New York City in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.


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