by Peter Jukes ‧ RELEASE DATE: N/A
Part montage, part essay""--published in England last year--evoking and defending the flux and freedom of the modern city. Casting the reader as the flaneur, British playwright and director Jukes takes us to the ""shifting and contradictory"" level of the street. He conjures the lights and pulse of London, Paris, Leningrad, and New York through the words of influential observers--including Marx, Kafka, Dos Passos, Le Corbusier, Calvino, Freud, Walter Benjamin, and Charlie Chaplin. Then, he expands on and links these fragmentary quotes in thought-provoking essays on each of the four world capitals. The chapter on London ""explores the nostalgia for history,"" tracing it to Dickens, who mourned the old city's ""grotesque face"" as it was disappearing Caught in the cycle of leveling and rebuilding, the street becomes a museum. In Paris, Jukes celebrates ""the romance of commodities and the commodity of romance."" Its streets are a market for what Baudelaire described as ""this unspeakable orgy, this holy prostitution of the soul that surrenders itself, utterly, to the unforseen encounter, to the stranger passing."" Haussmann's boulevards brought the grand view to the bourgeoisie, promoting walking, shopping, dreams, and revolution. The tensions between poverty and elusive spectacles of wealth erupt in Leningrad. There, politics rules. The flaneur is the poor clerk dwarfed by overbearing monuments to power, and the street ""the only forum to redress"" injustice. Finally, New York, ""capital of the twentieth century,"" inherits ""the memories and precepts"" of the Old World, taking the promise of physical and economic mobility to the extreme. As throngs seize freedom in the squares of Eastern Europe, we hear the ""shout in the street."" Jukes' lyrical argument sounds an alarm to preserve our threatened cities and the idea of ""urbanity and civility"" that they hold.
Pub Date: N/A
Page Count: -
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1990
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