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BOOKS

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Parisian Views by Shelley Rice. MIT Press, 1997. 267pp. £24.95

The subject of this absorbing study is mid nineteenth-century Paris as seen by its photographers. With close attention to individual images (many are reproduced), Shelley Rice explores a city in the throes of dramatic reconstruction, as hovels were levelled and Haussmann's boulevards surged into the distance. In a chapter on train travel and its impact on perception, Rice makes explicit the theme that informs the whole book: the development of a Modernist sensibility, where a stable connection between self and environment is undermined, and where mediated experience begins to hold sway. 'I no longer know how to find myself in that which surrounds me, ' said Nadar, whose photographs in catacombs, sewers, and from a balloon are particularly telling.

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