This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. This book adopts a sensory approach to understanding the city as a sonic space that orchestrates different, often conflicting sound culture. It shows how city noise heightens the significance of selective listening in the modern urban condition and argues for an aural rather than visual conception of modernity. In nineteenth-century Paris, urban renewal did not mark the beginning of a period of diminution of sound, but rather it was a time of increasing awareness of, and emphasis on, noise. By reconsidering the myth of Paris as the city of spectacle, where the flâneur's scopophilia reigns supreme, this book attends to what has been silenced by the visual paradigm that still prevails in nineteenth-century French cultural studies. It explores perceptions of street noise in nineteenth-century Paris by selecting specific sounds from the 1830s to the 1890s—peddling sounds—that were distinctive.
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