Shakespeare and Company

 Reading Sylvia Beach's memoir was a glimpse into an exclusive club, like some kind of secret fraternity without the pomp and circumstance associated. To think of the movers and shakers, so to speak, of the modernist movement circling around a library/bookshop that is described in such a homely, inconsequential manner is startling. The fact that everyone seems a bit broke, that everyone seems to not have fully settled into their lives (and those that have act as if they don't care much for their own influence) really speaks to the connections that formed modernism. The connection between Beach and authors, both youn and established, are portrayed as loosely tied, uncompetitive, and unpretentious. They just seem to come and go easily. Yet being involved in the connections that defined modernist work is also seen to be exclusive. Those with the right friends, those with the right family (to pick up manuscripts from a trash can in the study), those who are willing and able to root up from America, abandon their careers as pianists and move wherever the rest of the authors are--those are the people who are shown to be involved in modernism.

Perhaps perfectly aligned with the exclusive yet relaxed tone of how relationships were formed in this era is the way that important authors are portrayed. They seem unconcerned with the work of others (or potentially with the progression of the movement as a whole); at times, they even seem unconcerned with their own work. Gertrude Stein jokes around and lounges all day, and cares only about her own books. Everyone else is unamusing. Ezra Pound walks into a library and goes around fixing things, invites Beach to look at all his hand-made furniture. There is a weird sense of indifference and lack of airs with the authors who molded art in an important time period. This speaks to modernism's reaction against the pomposity of old--those who molded the movement reflected its ideals in their everyday lives.