where the writers are
Authors Drink!? Why Did Nobody Tell Me?
Yes, The Elephant does go to a watering hole.

Café Savoy  

 I was - admittedly - a bit surprised to see Kafka's name in an article about the places famous authors went to drink. If Kafka had five ales over the course of a year, it would be of note. But - aha! - coffee houses are included.

 Drinking in Kafka's literary influences at Café Savoy in Prague

by Megan Cytron

Though Kafka and his friend Max Brod attended literary salons at the opulent Café Louvre, their time spent at Café Savoy had a more profound effect on the writer's later work. Having been educated in German schools, Kafka was brought up in an intellectual milieu far removed from Eastern European Jewish culture. While Yiddish theater was alive and well, in Prague it was relegated to low-budget productions performed by itinerant actors in cafes like the Savoy. The subversive brand of dark humor, irony and exaggerated gestures in these plays fascinated Kafka and filtered into his diaries, influencing works like "The Trial" and "The Metamorphosis." The Savoy has been degrunged and restored in several waves after the Velvet Revolution and sparkles with chandeliers and an intricate Art Nouveau ceiling. Today, upwardly mobile types people-watch while lingering over Viennese coffee, pastries and breakfasts that would have sustained a starving existentialist writer for a week.

J.R.R. Tolkien drank here: Literary watering holesby Megan CytronSlide show: We look at the bars that inspired writing legends, from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Franz Kafka A note about Trazzler's slide shows: We don't do top-tens or best-of lists. Nor are we so morbid or presumptuous as to tell you where you must go before you die. The world is far too big and fascinating to encapsulate in any kind of definitive list. We simply chose the places that our writers have contributed that make us think, laugh and dream about our next adventure. Visit us at trazzler.com to find more and let us know what you think.

While a visit to the home of a famous literary figure offers a peek at an eerie, lifeless space suspended in time, seeking out the public places where a writer wrote, drank and caroused tends to be a messier proposition. Life marches on in bars and cafes. Regimes fall. Neighborhoods change. New people take over. If you are lucky enough to find the place still in operation, you can never be sure what to expect.

It's true that many of the world's great literary haunts have been reduced to a tourist-trap cliché -- just consider the countless European bars with dubious "Hemingway drank here" signs propped up outside. Some venerable salons were disbanded and commandeered for decades for some other use (like the communist occupation of Kafka's coffeehouses in Prague). Others managed to stay afloat but couldn't keep the intellectual spark alive or the market forces at bay. It's enough to make a sentimental literature nerd somewhat despondent. Nostalgia aside, reading about these temples of debauchery and creativity and then making a pilgrimage to their present-day incarnations is sure to reveal a fascinating intersection of history, homage, mythology, memory and marketing.

And then there are the places that haven't given up the ghost: like the creaking boozer on the edge of Hampstead Heath where Keats morbidly pondered his nightingale; the Oxford pub where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis plotted their modern-day take on mythology; or the Madrid coffeehouse where starving postwar writers ran up tabs and sipped free soda water while plotting their next act of literary subversion. Time has passed, writers have changed, but the gathering places still feel relevant.

Here are 13 that run the gamut. Papa Hemingway only appears once, so it's obviously an incomplete list. Have you ever gone on a literary bender? In 50 or 100 years, where will the hallowed writer hangouts from the early 2000s be? In the archives of Open Salon



(more authors and watering holes)