The City in History
The City in History Author(s) Lewis Mumford Country United States Language English Publisher Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. Publication date 1961 Pages 657 ISBN 0156180359 OCLC Number 7102629
Mumford notes in his preface that, due to the limitations of his personal experience and study, he is unable to explore regions he has less familiarity:
As in all my other studies of the city, I have confined myself as far as possible to cities and regions I am acquainted with at first hand, and to data in which I have long been immersed. This has limited me to Western civilization, and even there I have been forced to leave out large significant tracts: namely, Spain and Latin America, Palestine, Eastern Europe, Soviet Russia. I regret these omissions; but since my method demands personal experience and observation, something unreplaceable by books, it would take another lifetime to make them good.
In the book Mumford urges for a world not in which technology reigns, but rather where 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'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 similies, 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 city in which Dickens lived.
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 the 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.
- Sanctuary, Village, and Stronghold
- The Crystallization of the City
- Ancestral Forms and Patterns
- The Nature of the Ancient City
- Emergence of the Polis
- Citizen Versus Ideal City
- Hellenistic Absolutism and Urbanity
- Megalopolis into Necropolis
- Cloister and Community
- Medieval Urban Housekeeping
- Medieval Disruptions, Modern Anticipations
- The Structure of Baroque Power
- Court, Parade, and Capital
- Commercial Expansion and Urban Dissolution
- Paleolithic Paradise: Coketown
- Suburbia--and Beyond
- The Myth of Megalopolis
- Retrospect and Prospect
- Hardcover, MJF Books (August 1997) ISBN 978-1567312119
- Paperback, Harvest Books (October 1968) ISBN 978-0156180351
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