Canadian and American modernist literature begins in Paris, France, where artists from around the world congregated en masse in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to address, contest, and even attempt to direct the changes precipitated by the arrival of modernity. Paris embodied the cutting edge of these forces. The black metal Eiffel Tower, the world’s largest structure when it was nished in 1889, symbolized the arrival of a new era, while such established nineteenth-century authors as Guy de Maupassant contested the ‘giddy, ridiculous tower’ for heralding a ‘ghastly dream’ (Harvie 2006: 95). Today, we call that ghastly dream modernism itself, and many of its distinctly urban, disjunctive, and geometrical features are anticipated in the tower. In Everybody’s Autobiography (1937), American novelist and poet Gertrude Stein, who pioneered adapting geometrical cubist painting methods to literature, used the Eiffel Tower as a metaphor for the oil wells she witnessed from Oklahoma to Texas to California. Her book reviews the rst wave of modernist literary production in the United States and explores the quintessentially modernist theme of the paradox of individual isolation and alienation in an age of mass-communication and transit: ‘since the earth is all covered over with every one there is really no relation between any one’ (Stein 1937: 99).