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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Shakespeare and Co. Coming to Town

The hardships of Moscow seem to be slipping away on a daily basis, but one thing still stands between expatriates and the easy life.

Foreigners pass books back and forth like sequestered colonials, growing territorial and enthusiastic about things they would never read at home. My own shelf boasts "Triphammer," the pulsating saga of a New Jersey cop with prostate problems, and "101 Dishes Made With Bread," which I read with interest during one of the darker points of last winter.

All that will change with the arrival of Shakespeare & Co., Mary Duncan is hoping.

Since Sylvia Beach opened Shakespeare & Co. in the mid-1930s, the English-language bookstore has helped make Paris's Left Bank into the bohemian Mecca it is today.

Shakespeare & Co. made up for in mystique what it lacked in size, and was patronized by Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and the most glamorous group of American expatriates to malinger abroad in generations.

Even now, under the administration of George Whitman (a descendant of the hairy transcendentalist Walt), the bookstore is a haven for the artiest and most wayward Americans in Paris.

Moscow may have a deficit of bohemians, but if all goes well, it will have a branch of the bookstore. Mary Duncan, a professor at San Diego State University and sometime Muscovite, hopes to open "Shakespeare & Co. -- Moscow" next April.

Although the store is not legally affiliated with the Paris store, Whitman has given Duncan the rights to the name.

Through a Russian partner, Alexander Ivanov, Duncan located a spacious cellar on Ulitsa Novokuznetskaya, and the team is planning extensive restoration through the course of the fall and winter. The planned store will offer tea and coffee and encourage a "browsing" atmosphere that has yet to appear in Moscow, she said.

The inventory will include second-hand books left behind by departing foreigners, and Duncan has tentative plans to start publishing English-language books through a Russian publisher, thus avoiding customs tie-ups. She also hopes to publish new Russian writers, she said.

The planned bookstore would supply some competition to Zwemmers' Bookstore on Kuznetsky Most, which has held a monopoly on the foreign-language book market here since it opened in November 1992.