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Subterranean Cities


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About the Author

David L. Pike is Associate Professor of Literature at American University. He is the author of Passage through Hell: Modernist Descents, Medieval Underworlds, winner of the Gustave O. Arit Award in the Humanities.


"From the 19th through the mid-20th century, the underground railways, catacombs, and sewers of these two cities have ignited the imaginations of such literary luminaries as Dickens, Wells, Baudelaire, Forster, and many lesser-known artists and writers. According to Pike, an examination of the literature and art relating to the netherworld of these aging but dynamic cities provides insight into the darker recesses of human nature and capitalist society. Copiously illustrated with photographs, art works, movie stills, maps, and other illustrations of real and imagined underground spaces, this is an original work of scholarship."-Library Journal, November 2005 "What lies beneath us has fascinated humans for millennia. But as Pike observes in his new book, Subterranean Cities, it was 19th-century engineering-underground railways, drainage systems, burial grounds"That transformed the urban landscape into a physical and metaphorical definition of subterranean space."-Jennifer Howard, Chronicle of Higher Education, 27 January 2006 "A triumph. The book is encyclopaedic in scope, never less than an absolute pleasure to read, and boasts a generous selection from the rich field of images related to the topic. The book will prove invaluable to anyone with an interest in the manifold topics it brings together, and is surely set to become a landmark in the history of urban modernity."-David Ashford, Modernism/modernity, November 2006 "David Pike writes with great fluency. His knowledge of theorists-LeFebvre, Soja, Mary Douglas-relevant to a comparison of underground, subway, sewage and burial systems in London and Paris is wide-ranging. He is adept at juxtaposing new industrial districts on which these 'sinks of consumption' were so heavily dependent."-Bill Luckin, Urban History "Subterranean Cities is a considerable work of urban archaeology, textual burrowing, and headlong epiphany. David L. Pike, scholar-sleuth, guides us through the reforgotten but ever-present labyrinths (of pain and memory) that lurk beneath those contrary capitals, London and Paris. Cities of metaphor are mapped from clues found in lost libraries, on excursions to catacombs, movie houses, sepulchres, and sewers. The cumulative effect of this glorious raft ride is white-knuckle exhilaration: night becomes day, that which was previously hidden is brilliantly visible."-Iain Sinclair, author of London Orbital: A Walk Around the M25 "In a beautifully written, deeply informed, critically engaging, and theoretically astute book, David L. Pike focuses attention on a highly original area of inquiry-the metropolitan underworld. Pike provides excellent insights into the cultural energies and material flows of the sewers, tunnels, and drains of London and Paris. Throughout, Pike draws on a vast bank of historical and literary sources in a truly dazzling manner."-Joseph Bristow, University of California, Los Angeles "Subterranean Cities is a brilliant and original work of scholarship. Bringing together in an arresting and engaging narrative the likes of Jules Verne and Henry Mayhew, Charles Dickens and Henry Moore, The Wind in the Willows and Zazie dans le metro, J. R. R. Tolkien and Emile Zola, David L. Pike reveals a nineteenth- and early-twentieth century city that was vertical as well as horizontal, characterized by literal and metaphorical netherworlds, and teeming with human and mechanical life below ground. With this book Pike quite simply remakes the way we understand and imagine the urban landscapes of London and Paris."-Deborah Nord, Princeton University, author of Walking the Victorian Streets: Women, Representation, and the City

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