Paris 1900, Par Bryher (Traduit Par Sylvia Beach at Adrienne Monnier)
In “Paris 1900,” a narrative of her first encounter with Paris, Bryher the intellectual, the woman who also aspired to write the history of an epoch, not only puts into focus the wholly personal process which leads her from isolated England to the European continent and allows her to access an identity that is geographically enlarged and culturally more composite and complex, but in addition locates in a precise biographical and historical moment the birth of the modern. In this birth, she writes, the desire of the individual and of the collective have collaborated in different ways. It is the heavy nineteenth-century forms that cause the rise in the desire for the new in the public of adult spectators who crowd the rooms of the Grand Universal Exposition of 1900, a desire that little Annie Winifred seems to perceive better than any of the adults: And perhaps because all sincerity of emotion was repressed, the age, as it felt itself dying, redoubled outward forms and put emphasis of life upon ownership of thousands of small possessions. It was at the Paris exhibition that modern art was born. The unconscious mind of thousands must have begun to imagine blank spaces and straight lines, while the eyes stared at cabinets full of miniatures, toy clocks, jeweled thimble cases, and Fragonard paintings reproduced in beads upon tiny bags.