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How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City (Anglais) Relié – 6 novembre 2014

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x8ce49e94) étoiles sur 5 115 commentaires
53 internautes sur 54 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8cc9a69c) étoiles sur 5 How Paris became Paris became Paris became Paris became Paris became Paris became Paris..........ad infinitum. 29 juin 2014
Par Le Stryge - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I freely admit I will read/watch just about anything that has Paris as its subject, or even uses that city as a background, but this book took me ages to finish. (A highly unusual situation for me it must be said!)

So constantly I got the feeling that I was just reading the same page over again.
The author knows her material, and presents it in quite a conversational tone but repeats and repeats similar anecdotes and facts until you get this odd feeling of déjà vu .

Yes Paris may have been innovative in so many ways but again and again we are told this and she lauds the praises of that particular city so constantly that even I became more than a little bored, ...and I hasten to add that Paris is my very favourite city in the world!

Each chapter is devoted to another area or field where Paris apparently "led the way" in becoming "modern".

Now there's next to nothing on the very extensive work carried out under the direction of Baron Haussmann at all, ...everything here takes place in the 16th/17th centuries and basically starts off with the removal of the surrounding defensive walls, the building of the Pont Neuf with footpaths, Place des Vosges, Place Vendome, and the development of the up until then barren Ile St. Louis.
She charts the rise of shops and also what we would call "developers" and "financiers", but I think they were probably more like astute speculators than anything else.

Oh, and she does harp on (and on!) about the streets being "lit", ...but as this was only by single candles, suspended one to a street so I don't think the "city of light" was all that bright for quite some time.
Still I suppose it was an innovation, but the very dim effects of guttering candles would hardly have done much to stop street crime (and the cloak-stealing!) as she so often asserts.

After that the author seems to consider Paris to be "modern", despite the fact that it was still largely composed of rat-infested medieval slums that had to be completely demolished and rebuilt before Paris began to look anything at all like what we see today.
The large open square or parvis we now see directly in front of Nôtre Dame Cathedral being one of the very worst places for squalid overcrowded pest holes. Its current open appearance is entirely due to Haussmann.

I enjoyed some of the information here but only up to a point.
What the book needed was a firmer hand with the editing to remove so much of the repetition which I notice has also been remarked upon by most of the other reviews here.
Yes there are quite a lot of very interesting facts if you happen to be into the detailed history of Paris, but if you are just an intending tourist looking for some light background in preparation for a forthcoming trip, then this is far too weighty and dry for your purpose.

I'm giving it three stars, which pains me a bit because it was a valiant attempt, (AND it's about Paris too), but the presentation is just a little too academic and the writing itself comes perilously close to appearing biased. And all too often it relies on re-hashing the same statements again and again.
39 internautes sur 45 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8cc9a6f0) étoiles sur 5 Historical information is interesting but..... 3 mai 2014
Par P.Garcia - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I love Paris. Each summer for the last five years I've spent a couple of weeks going over each arrondissement and discovering something new each stay. From museums, public spaces, parks, monuments and bridges, the city is beyond compare. I was looking forward to this book and to be honest, I did enjoy certain aspects and information. I just felt the writing was a bit dry and many of the key points were repeated over and over to the point that I was anticipating the "rewind" before it appeared (examples of Paris being the center of "la mode" were just beaten to death). All in all the book could be so much more concise.
34 internautes sur 41 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8cc9a9cc) étoiles sur 5 The Bridge to the Future 7 mars 2014
Par Sondra McClendon - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
For a paper that I am writing on urban history, I knew I would include Paris. I've only been there for three days, but it was just enough time to experiences it wonder, and now I know more reasons why! The significance of the Pont Neuf bridge revealed in this book opens the mind to how interwoven humans are with environment. She examines how the unique design of the bridge brought people together in new ways - from the fun of flirtation to unfortunate robberies.

I am most inspired by DeJean's thorough study of how the most modern city in the world had its foundation laid in the seventeenth century. Her writing style is appropriate for most readers, although it may be too casual at times for serious historians. Quite frankly, I find it a breath of fresh air. If there is anything out there on this time period that has similar academic caliber as Cities Perceived: Urban Society, I'd be interested to know, but this is good for me right now! It's a great read that will certainly enhance the way you see the world.
45 internautes sur 56 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Par rtlaud - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
DeJean repeats her assertions over and over as if merely saying something makes it true. She seems to know a lot about Paris but is completely unaware of similar innovations in other European cities--especially London and Amsterdam. She refers over and over to the "modern city" but never offers a definition of what this mythical concept might be. Some of her material is plain wrong (for example: her treatment of an "innovative" and "new" plan to develop a silk industry at Henri IV's Place Royale neglects that Lyon was a major player in the European silk trade...) She goes on and on about cloak thieves (another "invention" of 17th-century France??) while neglecting that they're a commonplace in the literature of antiquity and the Middle Ages. EVERY phenomenon she discusses is new or "the first." Conclusion: seventeenth-century France invented EVERYTHING (fashion, "home," champagne, perfume, cafés...). See her other books. Attention Professor: nihil ex nihilo gignitur.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8cc9af0c) étoiles sur 5 Fascinating and enjoyable...and an excellent sourcebook 27 septembre 2014
Par Diana Wilder - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I enjoy tales of fabulous characters, whether historical or imaginary, that follow them from their first appearance to their moment of highest triumph (or despair). What brought them about, what made them 'them', the turns and twists of fortune? In the book I speak of this month, one of my favorite characters is studied, her history recounted, illustrations of her growth in grace and charm, some account of the influences that made her what she is...

This character was formed by a powerful man who, seeing her, visualized her as greater than she was at that moment. He had the power to direct actions, mold events, and it was through his love affair with this character that events that led her ultimate form were set in motion. His son and grandson crossed this character's path, as well, each bringing changes and molding her with their actions and personality

I met this character in person, myself, in May of 1990, during a time of upheaval in my life. I was writing a story that features her. I have to say that I was charmed by her, fascinated, even enchanted. She remained a very important character of my WIP (Volume 1 is now published). I love to read about her, to see how others perceive her. I am not reviewing a book about a queen, a courtesan, a goddess or a great heroine, but a book about a city: Paris.

Paris is the first of the great 'modern' cities. Others have copied Paris. My home city, Philadelphia, has The Ben Franklin Parkway, which is a copy of the Champs-Elysees. The City Hall there is a copy of the Hotel de Ville. I am working on a project involving Paris as a sort of setting. I needed to understand the history and the development of that city. I found the book, bought it and read it. I thought it would be informative. I did not expect it to be entertaining.

DeJean starts with the sentence what makes a city great? The book goes on from there.

Prior to the 17th century, Rome was the most celebrated European city, famous for its past. People made pilgrimages to Rome to visit its ancient monuments and historic churches, to seek inspiration. Novelty and excitement were not on the agenda. And then, in the 17th century, a city was invented (or, I think, reinvented) to hold a visitor's attention and, itself, to provide enjoyment. This was Paris, the city as it is now, planned to be changed and enlarged, to grow into what it is now.

The history is fascinatingly told. For anyone who has studied European history, the names are familiar. One king had the idea, his son and grandsons followed. Essentially, Henri IV invented city planning. The book follows the changes (wars, invasions, revolutions) and the challenges (a river runs through it). It was perhaps the most useful thing I read for research, and not nearly as gory as some, history being what it is.

The construction of the book works. It is, after all, a history, so flows linearly. History involves people, and DeJean introduces the statesmen, rulers, ministers and citizens. The dreamers, the liars, the schemers... She ties the changes in culture in with the changes in the cityscape. The wide avenues that Paris is now famous for were novelties that encouraged leisurely strolling. Not going from one place to another, but strolling to see and be seen. Flirtation as a pastime, conveyances (fiacres, the original taxi cabs), modes of address... Architecture, too: the first balconies appeared in Paris, allowing residents to enjoy people-watching. And if people are strolling past your house, perhaps spiffing it up, or rebuilding it in a more magnificent form was desirable. And that fabulous piece of furniture, the boon for nappers and waiters-for-friends, made its first appearance in 1678. The park bench.

The book contains lots of illustrations including maps, engravings of citizens and celebrities. DeJean comments on them and ties them in to her narrative.

I bought this as a sourcebook. Rather like The Civil War Day By Day: An Almanac, 1861-1865 (Da Capo Paperback), or a topographical map of Georgia. Sourcebooks are useful, informative, generally interesting but not re-reads. Enjoyable ones are unusual. Joan DeJean writes in a flowing, chatty fashion. The linear structure of the book makes it into a history rather than an encyclopedia. For a sourcebook, I give it five stars.

...And, thanks to this book. I now have the perfect comeback line for someone who says, "Well, Paris was just a jumble of twisty, dark, dirty streets until Napoleon III and his minister, Baron Haussman, tore it all apart and rebuilt the city around 1850." "No, you're wrong. Paris as it is now was planned four hundred years ago. Go forth and read."

Unfortunately, such people are rare.
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