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City of NoiseSound and Nineteenth-Century Paris$
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Aimée Boutin

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039218

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039218.001.0001

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Aural Flânerie

Aural Flânerie

The Flâneur in the City as Concert

(p.11) Chapter 1 Aural Flânerie
City of Noise

Aimée Boutin

University of Illinois Press

This chapter establishes that scholarly approaches to flâneurs have downplayed the broader impact of the urban experience on the senses and underappreciated their aural acuity. From the type's early formulations by Honoré de Balzac, Auguste de Lacroix, and Victor Fournel, the flâneur is attuned to city sounds, and flâneur-writing arranges them to portray the city as concert. The art of flânerie consists of transforming the empirical confusion of city sounds into a unified musical composition. As the clamor of the streets promoted selective hearing, street musicians were targeted as major contributors to the city as concert. Close readings of verbal and visual sketches by Delphine de Girardin, Maria d'Anspach, Bertall, and Old Nick show that class-biased ideas about concert music influenced their often humorous reactions to street noise; nevertheless, the neurasthenic bourgeois ear was often less than receptive to the intrusive noise of foreign street performers. In contrast, Victor Fournel waxed enthusiastic about the people's love of music. A close reading of his Ce qu'on voit dans les rues de Paris makes sense of his distinctive appreciation for street music.

Keywords:   flâneurs, flânerie, city sounds, street musicians, Victor Fournel, aural acuity, Delphine de Girardin, Maria d'Anspach, Bertall, Old Nick

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