Henri Lefebvre, On the Rural: Economy, Sociology, Geography reviewed at Cleveland Review of Books by John Lepley (open access)

Henri Lefebvre, On the Rural: Economy, Sociology, Geography is reviewed at Cleveland Review of Books by John Lepley (open access). Here’s the final paragraph:

On the Rural is a remarkable collection. Far too many works about rural life and agriculture revolve around cliches and tropes. To be sure, Lefebvre documented customs and traditions, but he saw them in the context of a slowly-changing social landscape. These changes, moreover, were neither clear nor consistent. The slow transition of the French peasantry to farm laborers and to small capitalists was full of ambiguity, contingency, and irony. In an age of deep specialization, it’s also refreshing to read the work of someone who crossed disciplinary boundaries with ease. Lefebvre wrote as a historian, a sociologist, a geographer, a political-economist, and a philosopher. This makes for challenging reading at times but there are also brilliant passages that will goad readers on to the next page. In describing a Paris street, for example, Lefebvre’s prose is poetic: “Juxtaposed structures, from Roman ruins to banks, reproduce the ages of history in space, the succession of eras. The past is inscribed in the wounds of the stones themselves.” Just as in urban Paris, rural spaces are not devoid of history. They are products of human interventions, and On the Rural is an excellent place to learn about them. 

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