Cover image for Paris, capital of modernity
Paris, capital of modernity
Harvey, David, 1935-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York Routledge, [2003]

Physical Description:
xi, 372 pages : illustrations; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DC715 .H337 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Collecting David Harvey's finest work on Paris during the second empire, Paris, Capital of Modernityoffers brilliant insights ranging from the birth of consumerist spectacle on the Parisian boulevards, the creative visions of Balzac, Baudelaire and Zola, and the reactionary cultural politics of the bombastic Sacre Couer. The book is heavily illustrated and includes a number drawings, portraits and cartoons by Daumier, one of the greatest political caricaturists of the nineteenth century.

Author Notes

David Harvey received a Bachelor's degree and Ph.D. in geography from Cambridge University. After graduating in 1961, he joined the geography department at Bristol University as a lecturer. In the following years, he held teaching positions at Johns Hopkins and Oxford universities. He has written numerous books including Justice Nature and the Geography of Differences, The Urban Experience, The Condition of Postmodernity, and An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. He has received many honors, among them the Outstanding Contributor Award of the Association of American Geographers, the Anders Retzuis Gold Medal of the Swedish Society of Anthropology and Geography, and the Vautrin Lud International Geography Prize.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Drawing on essays written over the last 30 years, Harvey brings one of the most fascinating and confounding periods of French-or for that matter, European-history into sharp relief. He asserts that two conceptions of modernity were nurtured in Paris in the years after the First Empire-one bourgeois, and the other founded on the idea of the "social republic" geared toward benefiting all classes of citizens. Harvey traces these conflicting movements over the decades leading up to the Revolution of 1848 and charts their reverberations through the final days of the Paris Commune. The book is richly illustrated with over a hundred period photographs and cartoons by Daumier and others, which serve to reinforce the notion of Paris as a city of contrasts in a period of profound change. And Harvey is as comfortable and adept at quoting pertinent passages from the romantic novelists as he is offering detailed economic analyses of real estate and labor market dynamics. By making use of primary sources from diverse disciplines, he offers a thorough examination of the period: he explores, for instance, the role of women and class strictures and the consequences of urban planning and public transportation. The worst that can be said of this exhaustive investigation into the complicated and turbulent era of the Second Empire is that Harvey presupposes an intermediate knowledge of many of the important actors and events. As he weaves the humanities, philosophy, economics and sociology into a detailed tapestry, the author leaves remedial explanations of Parisian and French social movements to the authors listed in a well-annotated bibliography. This is not a problem in and of itself, but readers expecting a breezy history of the "City of Lights" may find themselves overwhelmed by the complexity and depth of this book. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

In his latest book, eminent scholar Harvey (The Condition of Postmodernity) discusses the capitalist transformation of Paris from 1848 to 1871, and in doing so, has created a complement to other recent histories of the city (e.g., Patrice Higonnet's Paris: Capital of the World and Alistair Horne's The Seven Ages of Paris). Much more than a simple chronological narrative, this complex and sophisticated work for academics utilizes the methodology of "historical-geographical materialism." That is, Harvey places the story of Paris's physical transformation within the context of interrelated and competing economic, political, social, and cultural forces. With the aid of various literary and artistic references and a rich assortment of illustrations, most especially from Daumier, Harvey explains how the needs of a modern city were at odds with the "ancient urban infrastructure" that was Paris. Highlighting the processes of urban transformation engineered by Baron Haussmann during the Second Empire, he uses a variety of examples to show the emergence of modern Paris: changes in spatial relations, distribution, class and community networks, gender roles, consumerism, and leisure patterns. A final chapter on the ideological and political struggles involved in the construction of the Basilica of Sacr?-Cyur is especially fascinating. Recommended for specialists in the field.-Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Modernity as Break
Part One Representations: Paris 1830-18481
2 The Myths of Modernity: Balzac's Paris 2
Part Two Materializations: Paris 1848-1870 Prologue
3 The Production of Space
4 Money, Credit and Finance
5 Rent and the Propertied Interest
6 The State
7 Abstract and Concrete Labor
8 The Buying and Selling of Labor Power
9 The Reproduction of Labor Power
10 Consumerism, Spectacle and Leisure
11 Community and Class
12 National Relations
13 Science and Sentiment, Modernity and Tradition
14 Rhetoric and Representation
15 The Geopolitics of Urban Transformation Coda: The Building of the Basilica of Sacre Coeur
Illustration Credits and Acknowledgements