Subterranean Cities: The World Beneath Paris and London, 1800¿1945 / Edition 1

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Overview

The underground has been a dominant image of modern life since the late eighteenth century. A site of crisis, fascination, and hidden truth, the underground is a space at once more immediate and more threatening than the ordinary world above. In Subterranean Cities, David L. Pike explores the representation of underground space in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a period during which technology and heavy industry transformed urban life.The metropolis had long been considered a moral underworld of iniquity and dissolution. As the complex drainage systems, underground railways, utility tunnels, and storage vaults of the modern cityscape superseded the countryside of caverns and mines as the principal location of actual subterranean spaces, ancient and modern converged in a mythic space that was nevertheless rooted in the everyday life of the contemporary city. Writers and artists from Felix Nadar and Charles Baudelaire to Charles Dickens and Alice Meynell, Gustave Doré and Victor Hugo, George Gissing and Emile Zola, and Jules Verne and H. G. Wells integrated images of the urban underworld into their portrayals of the anatomy of modern society. Illustrated with photographs, movie stills, prints, engravings, paintings, cartoons, maps, and drawings of actual and imagined urban spaces, Subterranean Cities documents the emergence of a novel space in the subterranean obsessions and anxieties within nineteenth-century urban culture. Chapters on the subways, sewers, and cemeteries of Paris and London provide a detailed analysis of these competing centers of urban modernity. A concluding chapter considers the enduring influence of these spaces on urban culture at the turn of the twenty-first century.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"From the 19th through the mid-20th century, the underground railways, catacombs, and sewers of these two cities have ignited the imaginations of such literary luminaries as Dickens, Wells, Baudelaire, Forster, and many lesser-known artists and writers. According to Pike, an examination of the literature and art relating to the netherworld of these aging but dynamic cities provides insight into the darker recesses of human nature and capitalist society. Copiously illustrated with photographs, art works, movie stills, maps, and other illustrations of real and imagined underground spaces, this is an original work of scholarship."—Library Journal, November 2005

"What lies beneath us has fascinated humans for millennia. But as Pike observes in his new book, Subterranean Cities, it was 19th-century engineering—underground railways, drainage systems, burial grounds"That transformed the urban landscape into a physical and metaphorical definition of subterranean space."—Jennifer Howard, Chronicle of Higher Education, 27 January 2006

"A triumph. The book is encyclopaedic in scope, never less than an absolute pleasure to read, and boasts a generous selection from the rich field of images related to the topic. The book will prove invaluable to anyone with an interest in the manifold topics it brings together, and is surely set to become a landmark in the history of urban modernity."—David Ashford, Modernism/modernity, November 2006

"David Pike writes with great fluency. His knowledge of theorists—LeFebvre, Soja, Mary Douglas—relevant to a comparison of underground, subway, sewage and burial systems in London and Paris is wide-ranging. He is adept at juxtaposing new industrial districts on which these 'sinks of consumption' were so heavily dependent."—Bill Luckin, Urban History

"Subterranean Cities is a considerable work of urban archaeology, textual burrowing, and headlong epiphany. David L. Pike, scholar-sleuth, guides us through the reforgotten but ever-present labyrinths (of pain and memory) that lurk beneath those contrary capitals, London and Paris. Cities of metaphor are mapped from clues found in lost libraries, on excursions to catacombs, movie houses, sepulchres, and sewers. The cumulative effect of this glorious raft ride is white-knuckle exhilaration: night becomes day, that which was previously hidden is brilliantly visible."—Iain Sinclair, author of London Orbital: A Walk Around the M25

"In a beautifully written, deeply informed, critically engaging, and theoretically astute book, David L. Pike focuses attention on a highly original area of inquiry—the metropolitan underworld. Pike provides excellent insights into the cultural energies and material flows of the sewers, tunnels, and drains of London and Paris. Throughout, Pike draws on a vast bank of historical and literary sources in a truly dazzling manner."—Joseph Bristow, University of California, Los Angeles

"Subterranean Cities is a brilliant and original work of scholarship. Bringing together in an arresting and engaging narrative the likes of Jules Verne and Henry Mayhew, Charles Dickens and Henry Moore, The Wind in the Willows and Zazie dans le metro, J. R. R. Tolkien and Emile Zola, David L. Pike reveals a nineteenth- and early-twentieth century city that was vertical as well as horizontal, characterized by literal and metaphorical netherworlds, and teeming with human and mechanical life below ground. With this book Pike quite simply remakes the way we understand and imagine the urban landscapes of London and Paris."—Deborah Nord, Princeton University, author of Walking the Victorian Streets: Women, Representation, and the City

Library Journal
It is the space beneath the streets of London and Paris that Pike (literature, American Univ.) seeks to explain through a critical examination of novels, poems, travelogs, movies, and other graphic media. From the 19th through the mid-20th century, the underground railways, catacombs, and sewers of these two cities have ignited the imaginations of such literary luminaries as Dickens, Wells, Baudelaire, Forster, and many lesser-known artists and writers. According to Pike (Passages Through Hell: Modernist Descents, Medieval Underworlds), an examination of the literature and art relating to the netherworld of these aging but dynamic cities provides insight into the darker recesses of human nature and capitalist society. Copiously illustrated with photographs, art works, movie stills, maps, and other illustrations of real and imagined underground spaces, this is an original work of scholarship that presupposes a thorough grounding in literary criticism and a firm understanding of such social theorists as French Marxist Henri Lefebvre. Recommended for post-graduate humanities collections.-Jim Doyle, Sara Hightower Regional Lib., Rome, GA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801472565
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 374
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

1 The new life underground 20
Beck's map and Guimard's thresholds 21
Talk of the tube 33
The plebeian metro 47
Guides to the underworld 68
Underground speculation 75
Subterranean order 89
2 The modern necropolis 101
Revolution underground 107
The catacombs of London 130
Coal city 144
The subterranean pastoral 166
How the dead live today 173
3 Charon's bark 190
Underworld journeys 193
Public utilities in London 214
Public filth in Paris 229
The seminal drain 252
4 Urban apocalypse 270
The city in ruins 273
Apocalypse between the wars 278
Modes of hell in postwar Europe 287
The mole people and global space 300
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