No city more than Paris has had such a constant and deep association with the development of literary forms and cultural ideas. The idea of the city as a space of literary self-consciousness started to take hold in the sixteenth century. By 1620, where this volume begins, the first in a long line of extraordinary works of the human imagination, in which the city represented itself to itself, had begun to find form in print. This collection follows that process through to the present day. Beginning with the 'salon', followed by the hybrid culture of libertinage and the revolutionary hotbeds of working-class districts, it explores the continuities and changes between the pre-modern era and the nineteenth century, when Paris asserted itself as cultural capital of Europe. It goes on to explore how this vision of Paris as a key capital of modernity has shaped contemporary literature.