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197 × 120 × 20 mm
96 pages
12 illustrations
15 Jul 2019

In Praise of the Bicycle Marc Augé, Teresa Fagan

This is the French anthropologist as we've never heard him before: Marc Augé coined the term ‘non-place’ to describe uniquitous, global airports, hotels and motorways filled with anonymous individuals. In this new book, he casts his anthropologist’s eye on a subject close to his heart: cycling. In In Praise of the Bicycle, Augé takes us on a personal journey of his own, on a two-wheeled ride around our cities, and on a journey into ourselves. We all remember the thrill of riding a bike for the first time and the joys of cycling. Here he reminds us that these memories are not just personal, but rooted in a time and a place, in a history that is shared with millions of others.

Part memoir, part manifesto, Augé celebrates cycling as a way of reconnecting with the places in which we live, and, ultimately, as a necessary alternative to our disconnected world.

‘In this playful (and playfully illustrated) little book, a French anthropologist expounds on his love of cycling. On a bicycle, he asserts, “you become someone else, and yet you are yourself as never before.” . . . Augé grounds his velophilia in nostalgia for the immediate post-World War II years, when the bike was a means of escape from devastated cities and the great champions Bartali and Coppi were performing mythic feats in the Tour de France. Since then, Augé’s argument goes, a crisis in cycling has developed, stemming from the sullying of professional cycling (through doping and corporate sponsorship) and from the way globalization “decenters” cities, prioritizing transit into and out of the megalopolis rather than within it. Yet his description of this crisis is just a prelude to Augé’s imaginings of a utopian future in which cars have been banished from the streets of Paris and bicycles have taken their place. The bicycle, he wants to assert, is a tool for the realization of humanism . . . Seeking portents of such a future, Augé cites Paris’s Vélib’ bike-share program. One might expect the man who coined the idea of “nonplaces” to be wary of bike-shares — alert to the partial inclusivity of such projects or suspicious of the corporate advertising that often finances them — but skepticism isn’t Augé’s project. His argument is fast and incautious; he’s freewheeling and having great fun.’ — New York Times

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Marc Augé is a French anthropologist and was Director of Studies at the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris. His many books include Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity (1995) and The Future (2014). He lives in Paris.

The bicycle: from myth to utopia

The Myth Experienced
The myth and history
The discovery of oneself
The discovery of others

The Crisis
The myth in ruins
The urbanization of the world:
in search of the lost city
Escaping the crisis?

Bicycle freedom
The youth of the world
The pedal stroke effect
Back on Earth