Paris, Capital of Modernity
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Collecting David Harvey's finest work on Paris during the second empire, Paris, Capital of Modernity offers 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.
their meaning, when ideas put on a new garb and the conditions of political life assume a totally new form without the basic substance being affected.”9 This last phrase, “without the basic substance being affected,” takes us back, however, to the still point of Balzac’s pastoral utopianism. A modern aristocracy needs money power to rule. If so, can it be anything other than capitalist (albeit of the landed sort)? What class configuration can support this utopian vision? Balzac clearly recognizes
Consider, for example, how Balzac does this in the extraordinary opening passages of Old Goriot. “Only between the heights of Montmartre and Montrouge are there people who can appreciate” the scenes to follow. We look down first of all into “a valley of crumbling stucco and gutters black with mud, a valley full of real suffering and often deceptive joys.” Madame Vauquer’s lodging house stands on a street between the Val-de-Grace and the Pantheon, where The absence of wheeled traffic deepens the
that we will interpret the world solely through surface appearances and thereby replicate the fetish in thought.70 The capitalist city is necessarily a fetish object in exactly this latter sense. This is so not only because it is built upon the circulation of commodities, or because, as Balzac so frequently avers, everyone in it runs, leaps, and capers “under the whip of the pitiless goddess . . . the necessity for money,” or is devoured by “the monster we call speculation.” The streets,
comprehend it or think I comprehend it; but suddenly I wake up alone and find myself in the midst of the depths of a dark light.”75 Appropriately rephrased and using Balzac’s capacity to project his monadic thought as a concentric mirror of the bourgeois universe, we might one day say of the whole history of the bourgeoisie: They enveloped the world with their thoughts, molded it, fashioned it, penetrated it, comprehended it—or thought they comprehended it; but suddenly they woke up alone and
Gargantua, by Daumier Liberty Leading the People, by Delacroix Republic, by Daumier Women socialists, by Daumier New road systems of the 1840s The new Paris, by Gustav Doré 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 11 12 13 15 24 27 31 35 38 42 49 60 61 62 63 70 81 92 vii RT19899_Book.indd 7 9/22/05 2:02:24 PM Illustrations 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 Nouveau Paris, by