Paris: Capital of the World / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $14.13
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 48%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (3) from $14.13   
  • New (1) from $34.41   
  • Used (2) from $14.13   
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any coupons and promotions
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:



New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

2005 Paperback NOTE: While this is a NEW, UNSOLD book, it has been on the shelf a while and does show some signs of cover wear, especially along edges and at corners.

Ships from: Minneapolis, MN

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Sort by


In an original and evocative journey through modern Paris from the mid-eighteenth century to World War II, Patrice Higonnet offers a delightful cultural portrait of a multifaceted, continually changing city. In examining the myths and countermyths of Paris that have been created and re-created over time, Higonnet reveals a magical urban alchemy in which each era absorbs the myths and perceptions of Paris past, adapts them to the cultural imperatives of its own time, and feeds them back into the city, creating a new environment.

Paris was central to the modern world in ways internal and external, genuine and imagined, progressive and decadent. Higonnet explores Paris as the capital of revolution, science, empire, literature, and art, describing such incarnations as Belle Epoque Paris, the Commune, the surrealists' city, and Paris as viewed through American eyes. He also evokes the more visceral Paris of alienation, crime, material excess, and sensual pleasure.

Insightful, informative, and gracefully written, Paris illuminates the intersection of collective and individual imaginations in a perpetually shifting urban dynamic. In describing his Paris of the real and of the imagination, Higonnet sheds brilliant new light on this endlessly intriguing city.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Boston Globe

In his new book...Higonnet looks back, to a time when the city was, arguably, the capital of it all...Higonnet's discussions of Paris as a city of revolution, or of the social alienation modernity brought to Parisians...are compelling. Such historical depth gives weight to the experience of anyone drawn to modern Paris, once or a dozen times.
— Tom Haines

Foreign Affairs

Already known for his incisive books on eighteenth-century France and the French Revolution, Higonnet will now be celebrated as the author of a beautifully produced work on the Paris of a century ago....All Francophiles will be enriched by this book and grateful to both the author and his perfect translator. A rich and intelligent tour of Paris by an erudite guide with an acerbic, playful mind and a passionate heart.
— Stanley Hoffman

Independent Magazine

Unobtrusively learned master of ceremonies, [Higonnet] draws on a vast knowledge of the culture and history of the 19th century. He misses very little: gastronomy and cafes, Haussman's urban facelift, museums and stations, the Parisienne, "le tout Paris", modernism and its enemies...Higonnet's high-octane thesis of an "inauthentic" but powerful mythic residue is seductive.
— David Coward

Times Literary Supplement

Higonnet's [book], with its cream-and-blue cloth binding, wide margins, elegant typeface and generous illustrations, has a clear edge in belle époque opulence. Higonnet's intention is to explore the myths of Paris. He focuses on well over a dozen familiar and less familiar themes—including revolution, crime, the self, la parisienne, literature, art, alienation and pleasure—that compose the city's heady mythic cocktail. His wide learning is worn lightly, and his technique is a pointilliste application of quotations, incidents and images.
— Robert Tombs

Washington Post

This beautifully produced study of Paris—elegant layout, many illustrations—adopts a "mythic" approach to the city's tumultuous, many-faceted past...[This] is the kind of history of Paris we might expect from a Roland Barthes (cf. Mythologiques) or Walter Benjamin (cf. The Arcades Project). If this prospect excites you, here is your book.
— Michael Dirda

Publishers Weekly
In 1323, the first book to treat Paris exclusively appeared; the number since then has grown to about 10,000, notes Higonnet, a professor of French history at Harvard who seems to have read them all before adding this original and illuminating work to their number. In constructing "a history not of factual events but of the way the city has been perceived, conceived, and dreamed," Higonnet (Sister Republics; Goodness Beyond Virtue) draws a fresh social, cultural and political portrait of Paris from the mid-18th century through the 19th century, augmented by some looks back and forward. Higonnet manages to be both intensely intellectual and deftly vivid as he escorts readers through a very wide range of reading. Organized thematically ("Capital of Revolution"; "Capital of Science"; "Capital of Sex"; "Capital of Crime"; "Capital of Art"; "Capital of the Modern Self"), the book uses three dates as focal points: "1750, when the first secularized myths of Paris appeared; 1830, the point at which they started to flower; and 1889, when they began to atrophy [and] `phantasmagoria' comes into its own." Higonnet appears to have missed nothing that touched or was touched by Paris-Twain and James, Balzac and Zola, sansculottes and surrealists, salons and expositions. In passing, his eye takes in clothes, gastronomy, street names and panoramas. Tidbits of historical gossip color the densely imbricated text: an 18th-century architect's plan for a bordello in "the form of an enormous phallus"; Les Lesbiennes, Baudelaire's preliminary title for Les Fleurs du mal; Marx meeting Engels for the first time at the Cafe de la Regence in the Palais Royal, "a mecca for the city's chess players." Higonnet, in a remarkably readable translation, achieves a seamless synthesis between the myth and the history of modern Paris. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Foreign Affairs
Already known for his incisive books on eighteenth-century France and the French Revolution, Higonnet will now be celebrated as the author of a beautifully produced work on the Paris of a century ago. He starts by making a distinction between myths and phantasmagoria. Myths are "life stories" that societies "elaborate to explain to themselves the rise and sometimes the fall of their collective enterprise." Phantasmagorias, in contrast, deform and drastically simplify the past. As Higonnet sees it, some of Paris' myths also ended as phantasmagorias. The myths include Paris' reputation as the capital of individualism, revolution, crime, science, alienation, pleasure, and art. There are also chapters on negative myths of "La Parisienne," urbanism, Parisian opera, the twentieth-century surrealists, and the visions of Balzac, Baudelaire and Zola. Paris' fall from grace after 1940 notwithstanding, Higonnet concludes that the city is "still unique ... a capital of the civilizing spirit." All Francophiles will be enriched by this book and grateful to both the author and his perfect translator. A rich and intelligent tour of Paris by an erudite guide with an acerbic, playful mind and a passionate heart.
Library Journal
This is a complex work of cultural and intellectual history that should interest specialists in the field. Higonnet (French history, Harvard) has drawn from a vast array of sources to produce an "urban biography" of Paris from the mid-18th century to World War II. The result is not a standard chronological and political narrative but a history of how the city has been seen, remembered, conceived, and visualized. The organizing construct used is the concept of myth, which Higonnet defines as life stories used by societies to explain themselves. Citing 1750, 1830, and 1889 as critical years in the creation of key Parisian myths, Higonnet shows that Paris has alternately been seen and has seen itself as the capital of modernity, revolution, self-identity, pleasure, and culture. The author also demonstrates how myths change and even engender opposition. Thus, a Paris perceived as a symbol of freedom and revolution later came to be seen by others through the lens of a "counter-myth" that viewed it as the site of revolt, crime, and immorality. The author also explains how myths are made real through visible landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the basilica of Sacre Coeur. Higonnet's comparative references to similar developments in London and New York are also helpful. Recommended for academic collections.-Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., N.J. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674017580
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2005
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 536

Meet the Author

Patrice Higonnet is Robert Walton Goelet Professor of French History, Harvard University.

Arthur Goldhammer received the French-American Translation Prize in 1990 for his translation of A Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1. A City of Myths

2. Capital of the Modern Self

3. Capital of Revolution

4. Mysterious Capital of Crime

5. Negative Myths of La Parisienne

6. Capital of Science

7. Reading the Parisian Myths

8. The Urban Machine

9. Capital of Alienation

10. Paris in the World

11. Three Literary Visions

12. Capital of Pleasure

13. The American Imagination

14. From Myth to Phantasmagoria

15. The Surrealists' Quest

16. Capital of Art

17. A Universal City

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)