Neighbours and Rivals: Paris and London

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Mercier first travelled to London, and began recording his impressions, in 1780. A leading exemplar of a new form of literature, with a journalistic style, less rigid and more reflexive, he presented emotive representations of the city as collections of experiences, habits and personalities. And in contrast to Dickens's London or Baudelaire's Paris, with their vivid contrasts of opulence and misery, Mercier's descriptions transport us to a less familiar urban environment - one more optimistic, and perhaps even utopian. His version of London is, in fact, a projection of his philosophical imagination - not simply a rounded portrait of the British capital but also a reflection of what Mercier hoped Paris could become.For this first publication in English, Laurent Turcot and Jonathan Conlin's translation preserves all of the life and humour of Mercier's text. It is profusely illustrated with contemporary images, with a particular emphasis on Thomas Rowlandson and Gabriel de Saint Aubin, a Parisian flaneur artiste.

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Pallas Athene Publishers
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