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The Urban Revolution

2003
Author:

Henri Lefebvre
Translated by Robert Bononno
Foreword by Neil Smith

The Urban Revolution

The first English translation of Lefebvre’s groundbreaking work on the urban experience

Originally published in 1970, The Urban Revolution marked Henri Lefebvre’s first sustained critique of urban society and is widely considered a foundational book in contemporary thinking about the city. This first English edition, deftly translated by Robert Bononno, makes available to a broad audience Lefebvre’s sophisticated insights into the urban dimensions of modern life.

At last, The Urban Revolution appears in a fine English translation. This book gave hope to an entire generation of urbanists; it should speak equally today to anyone concerned with the condition of cities.

Richard Sennett, London School of Economics

Originally published in 1970, The Urban Revolution marked Henri Lefebvre’s first sustained critique of urban society, a work in which he pioneered the use of semiotic, structuralist, and poststructuralist methodologies in analyzing the development of the urban environment. Although it is widely considered a foundational book in contemporary thinking about the city, The Urban Revolution has never been translated into English—until now. This first English edition, deftly translated by Robert Bononno, makes available to a broad audience Lefebvre’s sophisticated insights into the urban dimensions of modern life.

Lefebvre begins with the premise that the total urbanization of society is an inevitable process that demands of its critics new interpretive and perceptual approaches that recognize the urban as a complex field of inquiry. Dismissive of cold, modernist visions of the city, particularly those embodied by rationalist architects and urban planners like Le Corbusier, Lefebvre instead articulates the lived experiences of individual inhabitants of the city. In contrast to the ideology of urbanism and its reliance on commodification and bureaucratization—the capitalist logic of market and state—Lefebvre conceives of an urban utopia characterized by self-determination, individual creativity, and authentic social relationships.

A brilliantly conceived and theoretically rigorous investigation into the realities and possibilities of urban space, The Urban Revolution remains an essential analysis of and guide to the nature of the city.


The Urban Revolution

Henri Lefebvre (d. 1991) was one of the most significant European thinkers of the twentieth century. His many books include The Production of Space (1991), Everyday Life in the Modern World (1994), Introduction to Modernity (1995), and Writings on Cities (1995).

Robert Bononno is a full-time translator who lives in New York. His recent translations include The Singular Objects of Architecture by Jean Baudrillard and Jean Nouvel (Minnesota, 2002) and Cyberculture by Pierre Lévy (Minnesota, 2001).

The Urban Revolution

At last, The Urban Revolution appears in a fine English translation. This book gave hope to an entire generation of urbanists; it should speak equally today to anyone concerned with the condition of cities.

Richard Sennett, London School of Economics

It is great to have Lefebvre’s prescient, innovative, and foundational text on the city and urban theory available to us in English at last. This will surely enliven debate on the role of urbanization in relation to social change for decades to come.

David Harvey, CUNY Graduate Center

Widely considered a foundational book in contemporary thinking about the city. This first English edition, deftly translated by Robert Bononno, makes available to a broad audience Lefebvre’s insights. A well-conceived and theoretically rigorous investigation into the realities and possibilities of urban space.

Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society

Pioneering, ambitious, frustrating. The first English translation of Henri Lefebvre’s critique of urban life simmers with the student revolts of 1968 Paris and with the genuine conviction that the forces behind that unrest could still change cities as we now them. The author provides us with admonitions that are valuable even today.

Architecture

Henri Lefebvre’s The Urban Revolution, one of his most obviously important works for geographers, has, 33 years after its initial publication, at last appeared in an English translation.

Antipode

This book contains some wonderfully thought-provoking passages and it is clear why it had such an impact at the time of its original publication. Lefebvre’s fascination with with the urban is contagious, and for that reason, this book is an invigorating and rewarding read.

Journal of Regional Science