F Scott Fitzgerald...
Once drew a picture of the party in Paris (arranged by Sylvia Beach) at which he met his hero, James Joyce.
"Sylvia Beach hosted a dinner party in order that F. Scott Fitzgerald, who worshipped James Joyce, but was afraid to approach him, might do so. Out of nervousness or champagne, Fitzgerald greeted his hero by dropping down on one knee, kissing his hand, and declaring, How does it feel to be a great genius, Sir? I am so excited at seeing you, Sir,that I could weep."
But imagine if he’d invited other English language writers living in Paris (I'm not going to be strict about dates here).
Turns out James Joyce played the piano, which would have been useful for entertainment...
...and he might have brought along his friend, Ezra Pound who might sing a seasonal song:
Winter is icumin in
Lhude sing Goddamn,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham
Damn you, Sing, Goddamn.
Goddamn, Goddamn, 'tis why I am,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.
Sing goddamn, damn, sing goddamn,
Sing goddamn, sing goddamn, DAMN!
Jean Rhys knew all about what to drink...
... as did E Hemingway’s, whose cat seems to have been fond of white wine.
Edith Wharton scrubbed up rather well and was fond of high-end gatherings...
...as was Ford Maddox Ford
Anais Nin preferred fancy-dress parties
... or at the very least a dramatic tenue
...as did Janet Flanner
...and Djuna Barnes.
Allen Ginsberg was likely to wear even less conventional costumes (this photo was taken at his 39th birthday party).
(Barry Miles recalls Ginsberg getting very drunk, stripping off
completely, putting his underpants on his head and hanging a ‘do not disturb’ sign to his penis.)
William S Burroughs, by contrast, seemed reluctant to take off his hat even indoors.
James Baldwin would just turn up and look elegant...
...as would Henry Miller
Of course Sylvia Beach would be on hand, making sure everything went smoothly:
Assisted by her girlfriend and fellow-bookseller, Adrienne Monnier
As well as current owners, George and Sylvia Whitman
And their team.
Why am I telling you all this? Sylvia Whitman of Shakespeare and Company has commissioned me to draw a Christmas window at the bookshop, based on F Scott Fitzgerald’s sketch. Here's my (very) rough sketch of a Literary Feast:
I’ll be trying to translate all this onto the bookshop windows of Shakespeare and Company from Friday 3rd December.
Please come along and watch. I’ll be there all day on Friday 2nd, Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th December. I'll knock off each day when it gets dark and I'll be posting the results.
Shakespeare and Company, 37 Rue Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France
01 43 25 40 93
Metro St Michel