This vivid history of the city in Western civilization tells the story of urban life through bodily experience.
Sennett (The Fall of Public Man) has produced an engrossing history of the city told through its people's movements: how they dressed, bathed and made love, where they ate, what they saw and heard. He first examines Athenians' celebration of nakedness and the Romans' use of geometrical images derived from the human body to impose order on their imperial realm. Next he brings us to the 13th-century Paris of Notre Dame Cathedral, where burgeoning enterprises challenged the Christian sense of place and community. A New York Univeristy sociologist, Sennett discusses the creation of Venice's Jewish ghetto in the 16th century, then links William Harvey's discoveries about blood circulation to individualized movement and bodily freedom in revolutionary 18th-century Paris. In the modern multicultural metropolis, he says the buildings contribute to a lack of emotional connection, as well as monotony and sensory deprivation. Sennett forces us to rethink architecture, social history and urban design and planning. Photos. (Sept.)