Paris as Revolution: Writing the Nineteenth-Century City by Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson

By Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson

In nineteenth-century Paris, passionate involvement with revolution became town into an engrossing item of cultural hypothesis. For writers stuck among an explosive previous and a bewildering destiny, revolution provided a virtuoso metaphor wherein town will be identified and an essential precept during which it can be portrayed.In this enticing ebook, Priscilla Ferguson locates the originality and modernity of nineteenth-century French literature within the intersection of town with revolution. A cultural geography, Paris as Revolution "reads" the nineteenth-century urban no longer in literary works by myself yet throughout a wide spectrum of city icons and narratives. Ferguson strikes simply among literary and cultural historical past and among semiotic and sociological research to underscore the circulation and alter that fueled the strong narratives defining the century, the town, and their literature. In her realizing and reconstruction of the guidebooks of Mercier, Hugo, Vall?s, and others, along the novels of Flaubert, Hugo, Vall?s, and Zola, Ferguson finds that those works are themselves innovative performances, ones that challenged the modernizing urban whilst they transcribed its emergence.

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This "urban imagination" is then very much a "synecdochal imagination," defined by the ability simultaneously to conceive the part and the whole. This imaginative power is vital to the urban novel because it alone allows the city to be apprehended beyond the fragmentation implied in the parts that multiply as writers explore the city further. Synecdoche thus bespeaks the aesthetic of integration. Physiologies and literary guidebooks disperse energy by dividing Paris into parts. The urban textual equivalent of "divide and conquer" is the "segregate and dismiss" implied by the physiologies.

How is the city to be imagined, defined? How in fact are we to read these texts, and the city beyond? view=print 7/14/2006 Paris As Revolution Page 41 of 163 requires, a unity that encounters diversity in much the same way that a map imposes an artificial, constructed unitary view on three-dimensional space. The order of the text is logical in the primary, etymological senses of theory (logia ) and discourse (logos ) More accurately, this order is physiological because each table of contents is itself taken as an overgrown physiologie.

In contrast to the official seal, which displays a three-masted ship viewed from the side, this seal exhibits a galley with a single square sail going before the wind with its bank of oars raised. " Like the winds that converge on a single point of the sail, the currents of modern civilization intersect in Paris. With the crossed olive and oak branches that recall the garlands of the seal of the First Empire, the editors discreetly placed the volume under Napoleonic protection—but that of the first Napoléon not the third.

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