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The Margins of City Life : Explorations of the French Urban Frontier, 1815-1851 - John M. Merriman

The Margins of City Life

Explorations of the French Urban Frontier, 1815-1851


Published: 18th April 1991
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The Margins of Urban Life brings to life the "floating worlds of the periphery" in nineteenth-century French cities--the world of beggars, the most miserable prostitutes, ragpickers, casual labor, and unwanted people; the location of slaughterhouses, gas factories, tanneries, and, increasingly, even executions. The men and women of the suburbs and faubourgs were long identified by urban elites and government officials with the turbulent "dangerous classes" who might one day fall upon the wealthy quarters of the center. Merriman analyzes and evokes the social, class, neighborhood, cultural, and political solidarities--the shared sense of not belonging--that made the marginal people in peripheral places emerge as contenders for political power. His investigation explores the world of the Catalan agricultural laborers, the textile workers of the "high town" of Reims, the bitter rivalry between Catholic and Protestant workers in the faubourge of Nimes, the haven for under- and unemployed proletarians in Ingouville, above Le Havre, and France's strange frontier town, NapolA(c)on-VendA(c)e.

"A rich book, a treasure trove of intriguing finds."--American Historical Review "Refreshing and important."--The Historian "For those interested in cities, the book brings many useful messages: the continued importance of agriculture in urban economies; the power of state regulations and institutions to shape the occasions of conflict; the tight linkage between alcohol, workers' sociability, and political dissent; and the uneven integration of neighborhoods into a functioning urban polity. Most important, the book expands our awareness of French urbanization by blurring the boundary between town and country."--Journal of Modern History "A fascinating reinterpretation....Merriman gives us the most complete and sophisticated portrait of this world now available....A major contribution to urban history and the history of the nineteenth century in France."--Journal of Social History "Extraordinarily rich in detail....An exemplary work of social history."--Choice "Without any doubt, Merriman is one of the best historians of France writing in America today. No one knows more about French cities during this period, and no one has explored with more creativity and imagination the social and cultural history of townspeople who lived on the margins of urban life. His new book is filled with insights and establishes the main lines of a major new interpretation of French urban history."--Ted W. Margadant, University of California, Davis "Using mainly archival materials--police documents and military surveys that document the seedy side of life much as the press does today--he focuses on marginality as social, spatial, and political process."--The Annals of the American Academy "John Merriman's new book will be a delight to both historical and cultural geographers....Essential for any course on the historical or social geography of Europe. More than that, it deserves a place in any geography library for its fusion of concept and content, of place and people, of history and geography. This is a new classic work."--Progress in Human Geography "A fine model of the best in current historical writing, and can be cited as a worthy introduction to early 19th century political history. To conclude, this a most successful and readable work and points the way to a new form of urban history."--Association for the Study of Modern & Contemporary France "Merriman's Margins of City Life is a prodigiously researched, sumptuously written tour de France studded with pungent anecdotes..."--Journal of Urban History

ISBN: 9780195064384
ISBN-10: 0195064380
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 332
Published: 18th April 1991
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.77 x 15.9  x 2.64
Weight (kg): 0.67