Paris as Revolution: Writing the Nineteenth-Century City

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In nineteenth-century Paris, passionate involvement with revolution turned the city into an engrossing object of cultural speculation. For writers caught between an explosive past and a bewildering future, revolution offered a virtuoso metaphor by which the city could be known and a vital principle through which it could be portrayed.


In this engaging book, Priscilla Ferguson locates the originality and modernity of nineteenth-century French literature in the intersection of ...

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Overview

In nineteenth-century Paris, passionate involvement with revolution turned the city into an engrossing object of cultural speculation. For writers caught between an explosive past and a bewildering future, revolution offered a virtuoso metaphor by which the city could be known and a vital principle through which it could be portrayed.


In this engaging book, Priscilla Ferguson locates the originality and modernity of nineteenth-century French literature in the intersection of the city with revolution. A cultural geography, Paris as Revolution "reads" the nineteenth-century city not in literary works alone but across a broad spectrum of urban icons and narratives. Ferguson moves easily between literary and cultural history and between semiotic and sociological analysis to underscore the movement and change that fueled the powerful narratives defining the century, the city, and their literature.
In her understanding and reconstruction of the guidebooks of Mercier, Hugo, Vallès, and others, alongside the novels of Flaubert, Hugo, Vallès, and Zola, Ferguson reveals that these works are themselves revolutionary performances, ones that challenged the modernizing city even as they transcribed its emergence.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Scholars have always been aware that the French Revolution had many lasting legacies, in France and throughout the world. Ferguson Literary France, Univ. of California Pr., 1987 further demonstrates the vibrancy of the revolutionary heritage by looking at the city of Paris itself. She argues that the city could claim revolution as its very principle. The debates among politicians, historians, and philosophers about the revolution were reflected in descriptions of the city found in guidebooks, in the new names selected for dozens of streets, in the urban renewal projects of Baron Haussmann, and in the active role the city played in the novels of Hugo, Valls, Flaubert, and Zola. Though the book is based on impressive research, its appeal to the general audience will be limited by the author's frequent reliance on jargon like "literature of articulation" and "aesthetic of iteration." For scholarly collections.-T.J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520208872
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 6/20/1997
  • Pages: 267
  • Product dimensions: 6.01 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson is Professor of French and Sociology and Director of Graduate Studies for the Committee on Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is the author of Literary France: The Making of a Culture (California, 1987; under the name Priscilla Parkhurst Clark).

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Credits
Acknowledgments
Prologue: Writing Revolutions 1
1 Paris: Place and Space of Revolution 11
2 Mapping the City 36
3 The Flaneur: The City and Its Discontents 80
4 Haussmann's Paris and the Revolution of Representation 115
5 The Terrible Years 152
6 Judgments of Paris 195
Notes 231
Index 259
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