Flesh and Stone by Richard Sennett
The Body and the City in Western Civilization

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This vivid history of the city in Western civilization tells the story of urban life through bodily experience.

Flesh and Stone is the story of the deepest parts of life—how women and men moved in public and private spaces, what they saw and heard, the smells that assailed them, where they ate, how they dressed, the mores of bathing and of making love—all in the architecture of stone and space from ancient Athens to modern New York.

Early in Flesh and Stone, Richard Sennett probes the ways in which the ancient Athenians experienced nakedness, and the relation of nakedness to the shape of the ancient city, its troubled politics, and the inequalities between men and women. The story then moves to Rome in the time of the Emperor Hadrian, exploring Roman beliefs in the geometrical perfection of the body.

The second part of the book examines how Christian beliefs about the body related to the Christian city—the Venetian ghetto, cloisters, and markets in Paris. The final part of Flesh and Stone deals with what happened to urban space as modern scientific understanding of the body cut free from pagan and Christian beliefs. Flesh and Stone makes sense of our constantly evolving urban living spaces, helping us to build a common home for the increased diversity of bodies that make up the modern city.

About Richard Sennett

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Richard Sennett teaches sociology at the London School of Economics and New York University
Published March 17, 1996 by W. W. Norton & Company. 432 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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He sees this failing as an extension of the ``enduring problem'' of Western civilization: the inability or refusal of those with the power to build cities to honor ``the dignity of the body and diversity of human bodies.'' From Pericles' Athens to Robert Moses's New York, Sennett incorporates dis...

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Los Angeles Times

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New York University professor Richard Sennett is a Utopian dreamer, although it is putting it mildly to say that the urban environment he idealizes in these pages differs from the one you and I might imagine.

Oct 13 1994 | Read Full Review of Flesh and Stone: The Body and...

London Review of Books

Ideally, such a relation between people and places could be regenerated today in the modern cities of the West, though Sennett does not hold out much hope: the best we can manage, he thinks, is live and let live, as in his own neighbourhood of Greenwich Village.

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