New York: The Poetry Center, . Double-sided postcard, measuring 5.75 x 4 inches, printed in blue. Typed Greenwich Village address of recipient Fred W. McDarrah. Postmarked in New York City on October 29, 1959.
Original postcard from The Poetry Center at the YM-YWHA (now the 92nd Street Y) announcing Sylvia Beach’s upcoming talk, “The American and French of the Twenties Meet in the Rue de l’Odeon” on November 1, 1959. In 1919, Beach founded her English-language bookshop, Shakespeare and Company, on the Left Bank. She settled at 12 rue de l’Odeon, across the street from the French bookshop, La Maison des Amis des Livres, run by her friend and partner Adrienne Monnier. Between the two of them, Beach and Monnier made the rue de l’Odéon the center of literary life in Paris between the wars. James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Paul Valéry, Djuna Barnes, T.S. Eliot, Scott Fitzgerald, Mina Loy, and Andre Gide bought and borrowed books on both sides of the street. Most famously, Beach published Joyce’s Ulysses at Shakespeare and Company when no one else dared. The Nazi occupation of Paris forced the closure of Shakespeare and Company. After a stint in an internment camp during the war, Beach returned to Paris, where she remained active in the city’s literary life, working as a translator and watching her former customers win Nobel Prizes. In 1959, Beach published her memoir Shakespeare and Company to wide acclaim; this New York City talk appears to be part of the publicity effort for the book. Beach was introduced to the Poetry Center audience by her friend Jackson Mathews, to whom she had written earlier in the year: “my job at Shakespeare and Company was restful compared to what’s piled up on me now . . . This bustle of talks and interviews and appointments – I never used to make any of them” (Letters, 280). The recipient of this Poetry Center postcard was legendary Village Voice photographer Fred W. McDarrah, downtown chronicler of the Beats, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, the New York School, and Stonewall. McDarrah was a quiet, alert figure who seemed to be always present as cultural history was being made: a quality he shared with Sylvia Beach. A surprising survival.