This elegantly written book describes the changes in the perception and experience of the night in three great European cities: Paris, Berlin and London. The lighting up of the European city by gas and electricity in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries brought about a new relationship with the night, in respect of both work and pleasure.
Nights in the Big City explores this new awareness of the city in all its ramiﬁcations. Joachim Schlör has spent his days sifting through countless police and church archives and ﬁrst-hand accounts, and his nights exploring the highways and byways of these three great capitals. Illustrated with haunting and evocative photographs by Bill Brandt and André Kertész, among others, and ﬁlled with contemporary literary references, Nights in the Big City has been acclaimed as a milestone in the cultural history of the city.
This new edition features a Preface by Matthew Beaumont, author of Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London (Verso, 2015).
‘An illuminating guide to the idioms of the night.’ – Roy Porter, Times Higher Education
‘The nineteenth-century metropolitan night provoked both fascination and fear. Aligned with desire and temptation on the one hand, and with intimidation and terror on the other, it conjured up images of intoxicating pleasure alongside those of crime and violence. This tension lies at the heart of Schlör’s compelling history of the noctural city . . . Founding rather than inhabiting any pre-existing genre, Schlör’s work combines urban studies, cultural history and social history . . . Today, one can only look back in admiration at the urban nightlife described with such loving attention in this book.’ – TLS
‘[Schlör] has, I think, opened a new strand of urban studies . . . the sort of academic stroke of genius on which careers can be made . . . interesting, even seductive. [Schlör] is erudite, and his literary style is alluring.’ – Architect’s Journal
‘An important book, providing fascinating glimpses of night life in the city between 1840 and 1930.’
– London Magazine
‘Schlör’s brilliant book shines a torch into the alleyways and courtyards, clubs and pubs of the three great European cities in the century before World War II to reveal a fascinating world, illustrated with some vivid photographs.’ – Good Book Guide
‘We’ve had conventional, technology-based histories of lighting before but this fascinating book goes one step further than that. Based on extensive archival research in Paris, Berlin and London, it details the way that our perceptions and experience of both the city and the night changed with the introduction of gas and electric light between 1840 and 1930 . . . accompanied by some superbly evocative photographs.’ – Lighting Journal
‘Elegantly written and well balanced . . . a masterly piece of work which deserves unconstrained academic awareness and can be highly recommended to anyone interested in modern European urban history.’
Joachim Schlör is a cultural historian based at the University of Southampton. He is the author of Tel Aviv: From Dream to City (Reaktion, 1999).