The City in History

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The City in History

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First edition
Author Lewis Mumford
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Harcourt, Brace and World
Publication date
1961
Media type Print
Pages 657
ISBN 0-15-618035-9
OCLC 7102629

The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects is a 1961 National Book Award winner by American historian Lewis Mumford.

Historian person who studies and writes about the past

A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past, and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is concerned with events preceding written history, the individual is a historian of prehistory. Some historians are recognized by publications or training and experience. "Historian" became a professional occupation in the late nineteenth century as research universities were emerging in Germany and elsewhere.

Lewis Mumford American historian, sociologist, philosopher of technology, and literary critic

Lewis Mumford was an American historian, sociologist, philosopher of technology, and literary critic. Particularly noted for his study of cities and urban architecture, he had a broad career as a writer. Mumford was influenced by the work of Scottish theorist Sir Patrick Geddes and worked closely with his associate the British sociologist Victor Branford.

Contents

It was first published by Harcourt, Brace & World (New York).

Harcourt was a United States publishing firm with a long history of publishing fiction and nonfiction for adults and children. The company was last based in San Diego, California, with editorial/sales/marketing/rights offices in New York City and Orlando, Florida, and was known at different stages in its history as Harcourt Brace, & Co. and Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. From 1919 to 1982, it was based in New York City.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States and thus also in the state of New York. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Synopsis

Mumford argues for a world not in which technology rules, but rather in which it achieves a balance with nature. His ideal vision is what can be described as an "organic city," where culture is not usurped by technological innovation but rather thrives with it. Mumford contrasts these cities with those constructed around wars, tyrants, poverty, etc. However, the book is not an attack on the city, but rather an evaluation of its growth, how it came to be, and where it is heading, as evidenced by the final chapter "Retrospect and Prospect."

Mumford notes apologetically in his preface that his "method demands personal experience and observation," and that therefore he has "confined [him]self as far as possible to cities and regions [he is] acquainted with at first hand." [1]

Style

Mumford's florid writing style is also "organic" compared to the cold, mechanical style of many history texts. Stylistically, his works are full of metaphors and similes, as well as quotations from famous novelists, giving his prose shades of poetry. He refers to such texts as Great Expectations and Hard Times , sometimes using citations to illustrate to the reader what life was like during the industrial era and the city in which Dickens lived.

<i>Great Expectations</i> novel by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations is the thirteenth novel by Charles Dickens and his penultimate completed novel: a bildungsroman that depicts the personal growth and personal development of an orphan nicknamed Pip. It is Dickens's second novel, after David Copperfield, to be fully narrated in the first person. The novel was first published as a serial in Dickens's weekly periodical All the Year Round, from 1 December 1860 to August 1861. In October 1861, Chapman and Hall published the novel in three volumes.

<i>Hard Times</i> (novel) weekly serial; novel by Charles Dickens; published 1854

Hard Times – For These Times is the tenth novel by Charles Dickens, first published in 1854. The book surveys English society and satirises the social and economic conditions of the era.

Articles have been written on Mumford's use of metaphors and how his works can often be read as "fiction," in the sense that they have narrative flow. This is evident in this book, in which, instead of a human protagonist on which the story centers, we have the city and its growth in a quasi- bildungsroman fashion.

In literary criticism, a Bildungsroman is a literary genre that focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood, in which character change is extremely important.

Editions

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

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References

  1. Lewis Mumford, The City in History San Diego, Harcourt Inc, 1961; p. XI