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Paris, Capital of Modernity by David Harvey

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CHAPTER ONE

THE MYTHS OF MODERNITY

BALZAC’S PARIS

“Balzac has secured the mythic constitution of the world through precise topographic contours. Paris is the breeding ground of his mythology—Paris with its two or three great bankers (Nucingen, du Tillet), Paris with its great physician Horace Bianchon, with its entrepreneur César Birotteau, with its four or five great cocottes, with its usurer Gobseck, with its sundry advocates and soldiers. But above all—and we see this again and again—it is from the same streets and corners, the same little rooms and recesses, that the figures of this world step into the light. What else can this mean but that topography is the ground plan of this mythic space of tradition, as it is of every such space and ...

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