Victorian Visions of Suburban Utopia

Victorian Visions of Suburban Utopia : Abandoning Babylon

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The rise of suburbs and disinvestment from cities have been defining features of life in many countries over the course of the twentieth century. In Victorian Visions of Suburban Utopia, Nathaniel Walker asks: why did we abandon our dense, complex urban places and seek to find "the best of the city and the country" in the flowery suburbs? While looking back at the architecture and urban design of the 1800s offers some answers, Walker argues that a great
missing piece of the story can be found in Victorian utopian literature. The replacement of cities with high-tech suburbs was repeatedly imagined and breathlessly described in the socialist dreams and science-fiction fantasies of dozens of British and American authors. Some of these visionaries - such as Robert
Owen, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Edward Bellamy, William Morris, Ebenezer Howard, and H. G. Wells - are enduringly famous, while others were street vendors or amateur chemists who have been all but forgotten. Together, they fashioned strange and beautiful imaginary worlds built of synthetic gemstones, lacy metal colonnades, and unbreakable glass, staffed by robotic servants and teeming with flying carriages. As varied as their futuristic visions could be, Walker reveals how most of them were
unified by a single, desperate plea: for humanity to have a future worth living, we must abandon our smoky, poor, chaotic Babylonian cities for a life in shimmering gardens.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 576 pages
  • 166 x 241 x 36mm | 1,111.3g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0198861443
  • 9780198861447

Table of contents

Introduction: The Dream Before the Dream
1: "God Made the Country, Man Made the Town": The Foundations of Modern Suburban Utopias
2: Socialist Schemes and Suburban Dreams
3: Urban Non-Fiction and Suburban Science Fiction
4: Empires of Hygiene and Horror
5: The Republic of the Future
6: Architecture Under Nationalism
7: Gardening in the Apocalypse
Conclusion: "And Was Jerusalem Builded Here?"
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Review quote

This is a book that was waiting to be written. The fundamental point of Victorian Visions of Suburban Utopia may seem obvious, but never before has it been worked out so thoroughly, on this scale or in such depth, across disciplines and in both Britain and America (and even further afield). Better still, it is written with enthusiasm and clarity, and generously illustrated. * Jacqueline Banerjee, Victorian Web *
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About Nathaniel Robert Walker

Nathaniel Robert Walker is Associate Professor of Architectural History at the College of Charleston. He earned his PhD at Brown University, and studies the relationships between architecture, aesthetics, public space, urban design, political power, and dreams of the future, both utopian and apocalyptic. He has published essays in ARRIS, Buildings and Landscapes, the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Traditional Dwellings and
Settlements Review, Utopian Studies, and a number of edited volumes, including Suffragette City: Women, Politics and the Built Environment, which he co-edited with E. Darling. He has curated two exhibitions dealing with the connections between architecture, urbanism, and human dreams: Building Expectations: Past and
Present Visions of the Architectural Future (Bell Gallery, Providence), and The City Luminous: Architectures of Hope in an Age of Fear (City Gallery, Charleston, co-curated with J. Streit).
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