Paris: The Biography of a City

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From the Roman Emperor Julian, who waxed rhapsodic about Parisian wine and figs, to Henry Miller, who relished its seductive bohemia, Paris has been a perennial source of fascination for 2,000 years. In this definitive and illuminating history, Colin Jones walks us through the city that was a plague-infested charnel house during the Middle Ages, the bloody epicenter of the French Revolution, the muse of nineteenth-century Impressionist painters, and much more. Jones’s masterful narrative is enhanced by numerous photographs and feature boxes—on the Bastille or Josephine Baker, for instance—that complete a colorful and comprehensive portrait of a place that has endured Vikings, Black Death, and the Nazis to emerge as the heart of a resurgent Europe. This is a thrilling companion for history buffs and backpack, or armchair, travelers alike.
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About the author

Colin Jones is professor of history at the University of Warwick and the author of several works of history, including The Longman Companion to the French Revolution and The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Apr 4, 2006
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Pages
592
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ISBN
9781440626999
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / France
History / Modern / 20th Century
Travel / Europe / France
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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You could be forgiven for thinking that the smile has no history; it has always been the same. However, just as different cultures in our own day have different rules about smiling, so did different societies in the past. In fact, amazing as it might seem, it was only in late eighteenth century France that western civilization discovered the art of the smile. In the 'Old Regime of Teeth' which prevailed in western Europe until then, smiling was quite literally frowned upon. Individuals were fatalistic about tooth loss, and their open mouths would often have been visually repulsive. Rules of conduct dating back to Antiquity disapproved of the opening of the mouth to express feelings in most social situations. Open and unrestrained smiling was associated with the impolite lower orders. In late eighteenth-century Paris, however, these age-old conventions changed, reflecting broader transformations in the way people expressed their feelings. This allowed the emergence of the modern smile par excellence: the open-mouthed smile which, while highlighting physical beauty and expressing individual identity, revealed white teeth. It was a transformation linked to changing patterns of politeness, new ideals of sensibility, shifts in styles of self-presentation - and, not least, the emergence of scientific dentistry. These changes seemed to usher in a revolution, a revolution in smiling. Yet if the French revolutionaries initially went about their business with a smile on their faces, the Reign of Terror soon wiped it off. Only in the twentieth century would the white-tooth smile re-emerge as an accepted model of self-presentation. In this entertaining, absorbing, and highly original work of cultural history, Colin Jones ranges from the history of art, literature, and culture to the history of science, medicine, and dentistry, to tell a unique and untold story about a facial expression at the heart of western civilization.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the smile has no history; it has always been the same. However, just as different cultures in our own day have different rules about smiling, so did different societies in the past. In fact, amazing as it might seem, it was only in late eighteenth century France that western civilization discovered the art of the smile. In the 'Old Regime of Teeth' which prevailed in western Europe until then, smiling was quite literally frowned upon. Individuals were fatalistic about tooth loss, and their open mouths would often have been visually repulsive. Rules of conduct dating back to Antiquity disapproved of the opening of the mouth to express feelings in most social situations. Open and unrestrained smiling was associated with the impolite lower orders. In late eighteenth-century Paris, however, these age-old conventions changed, reflecting broader transformations in the way people expressed their feelings. This allowed the emergence of the modern smile par excellence: the open-mouthed smile which, while highlighting physical beauty and expressing individual identity, revealed white teeth. It was a transformation linked to changing patterns of politeness, new ideals of sensibility, shifts in styles of self-presentation - and, not least, the emergence of scientific dentistry. These changes seemed to usher in a revolution, a revolution in smiling. Yet if the French revolutionaries initially went about their business with a smile on their faces, the Reign of Terror soon wiped it off. Only in the twentieth century would the white-tooth smile re-emerge as an accepted model of self-presentation. In this entertaining, absorbing, and highly original work of cultural history, Colin Jones ranges from the history of art, literature, and culture to the history of science, medicine, and dentistry, to tell a unique and untold story about a facial expression at the heart of western civilization.
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