Two women played a central role in Parisian literary life after World War I: Frenchwoman Adrienne Monnier (1892-1955) and American Sylvia Beach (1887-1962). These two book lovers met in 1917, and ended up working and living together for 38 years. Monnier ran a bookstore and a lending library when they first met on the left bank of the Seine, at number seven on the rue de l'Odéon. The bookstore, La Maison des Amis des Livres, functioned as a meeting point for writers, artists, publishers and printers. Monnier was also active as a publisher and author herself (under the pseudonym J.-M. Sollier).
Shakespeare & Company
In 1921, Sylvia Beach opened her own business, Shakespeare & Company, across from Monnier's store, following the same formula: a bookstore/library, publisher and salon. Beach focused on English-language literature - only very little contemporary American and English literature was then available in translation - while Monnier focused on French literature. Sylvia Beach became known as a publisher, and as a home base for Americans such as Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound; Adrienne Monnier became the point of contact for authors such as Valery Larbaud, Paul Valéry and André Gide. The rue de l'Odéon was transformed into a French-American cultural hothouse.
Their businesses may have been separate, but their lives were intimately connected. They were lovers who shared the same literary network. Both had books printed by Maurice Darantiere in Lijon. His printing press was responsible for the first edition of James Joyce's Ulysses in 1922, commissioned by Sylvia Beach. Darantiere was Monnier's regular printer, and responsible for the series Cahiers des Amis des Livres. The first part in that six-part series was by Paul Claudel. The Koopman Collection holds three other parts as well: Guerre et littérature by Georges Duhamel, Samuel Butler by Valery Larbaud, and Georges Duhamel by Luc Durtain.
Claudel's Introduction à quelques œuvres - an introduction to his own work - is the afternoon lecture organized by Monnier on 30 May 1919 at the Théâtre du Gymnase. After Claudel's lecture, Eve Francis, Jean Hervé, Édouard de Max, Jean Yonnel and Marguerite Moreno performed scenes from two plays, and they read a few poems by Claudel. In 1921 Monnier organised another evening centred on Claudel, whom she so admired. This time, Léon Paul Fargue, Jules Romains and Monnier himself read from his work. The lectures, the publications and the intimate dinners in this extraordinary atmosphere created a close bond between writers, critics and readers of modern literature. It is telling that Claudel began his lecture by eulogizing Adrienne Monnier's exquisite taste and fine judgment.
|Description:||Introduction à quelques œuvres / Paul Claudel. - Paris: Monnier, 1920. - 29 p. ; 25 cm. - (Les cahiers des Amis des Livres; 1)|
|This copy:||Number 747 of 950 on Alfa|
|Note:||With autograph dedication from Paul Claudel to Louis Koopman|
|Shelf-mark:||Koopm A 183|
- Paul van Capelleveen, Sophie Ham, Jordy Joubij, Voices and visions. The Koopman Collection and the Art of the French Book. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands; Zwolle, Waanders, 2009
- Adrienne Monnier, Les gazettes d'Adrienne Monnier 1925-1945. Paris, René Julliard, 1953
- Laure Murat, Passage de l'Odéon: Sylvia Beach, Adrienne Monnier et la vie littéraire à Paris dans l'entre-deux-guerres. Paris, Fayard, 2003
- Noel Riley Fitch, Sylvia Beach and the lost generation: a history of literary Paris in the twenties & thirties. New York, Norton, 1983
Autograph dedication from Paul Claudel to Louis Koopman
Programme of the literary afternoon