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The Invention of Paris: A History in Footsteps

A radical guide to Paris through art, literature and revolution.
The Invention of Paris is a tour through the streets and history of the French capital under the guidance of radical Parisian author and publisher Eric Hazan.

Hazan reveals a city whose squares echo with the riots, rebellions and revolutions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Combining the raconteur’s ear for a story with a historian’s command of the facts, he introduces an incomparable cast of characters: the literati, the philosophers and the artists—Balzac, Baudelaire, Blanqui, Flaubert, Hugo, Maney, and Proust, of course; but also Doisneau, Nerval and Rousseau.

It is a Paris dyed a deep red in its convictions. It is haunted and vitalized by the history of the barricades, which Hazan retells in rich detail. The Invention of Paris opens a window on the forgotten byways of the capital’s vibrant and bloody past, revealing the city in striking new colors.

Reviews

  • “[Hazan] stalks the capital, fulminating about the nineteenth and twentieth centuries' artistic and political rebellions.”
  • “Detailed, passionate ... Any visit to [Paris] would be made richer by taking the time to read Hazan's book.”
  • “This is a wondrous book, either to be read at home with a decent map, or carried about sur place through areas no tourists bother with.”
  • “Hazan is all business. He trudges through Paris street by street, quoting what Balzac, Hugo, Baudelaire or Kafka said about a particular spot, pointing out where barricades were once erected and thieves gathered for drinks.”
  • “Amid the intellectual murkiness of the European scene, a few bright flames are burning: as witness the work of Eric Hazan.”
  • “[F]ew will be able to resist... Hazan's brick-by-brick account of the city's history of strife and political posturing is riveting.”
  • “Do you want to be happy? Buy this book and take a stroll.”
  • “Hazan wants to rescue individual moments from general forgetting and key sites from the bland homogenization of international city development; he is also a passionate left-wing historian seeking to rescue the truth of Paris’s revolutionary past.”
  • “One of the greatest books about the city anyone has written in decades, towering over a crowded field, passionate and lyrical and sweeping and immediate.”
  • “This book is both a political and aesthetic delight, uncovering the real mysteries of Paris.”
  • “With its astonishing breadth of reference and incredible detail, this is a must for all lovers of Paris.”
  • “[A] stunning book.”

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Other books by Eric Hazan Translated by David Fernbach