The Invention of Paris: A History in Footsteps
by Eric Hazan, translated from the French by David Fernbach
Verso, 384 pp., $29.95
Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris
by Graham Robb
Norton, 476 pp., $28.95
Eric Hazan’s The Invention of Paris is at once a study of the evolution of the idea of Paris and an attempt to preserve the experience of its physical history—the latent historical meaning that has accrued on every corner—including the many inconvenient wrinkles that have been paved over and sandblasted and designed out of existence in the past fifty years and will soon lie beyond the reach of living memory. Hazan takes in both the big picture and the minute details, and is attentive to all those nuances of ambiance and demarcation that even today can make a relatively short walk in certain parts of Paris feel like a journey between epochs.