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The Poetics of Space Paperback – 30 Dec 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (30 Dec. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143107526
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143107521
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

The son two of shoemakers, Gaston Bachelard had an illustrious academic career at the Sorbonne, eventually gaining the Légion d'Honneur and the Grand Prix National des Lettres. His work has influenced intellectual titans like Foucault, Merleau-Ponty, Deleuze and Althusser.

Mark Z. Danielewski is best known for his striking debut novel, House of Leaves.

Richard Kearney is the Charles B. Seelig Chair of Philosophy at Boston College.


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127 of 129 people found the following review helpful By Jay O. on 16 Jun. 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
French cultural theory is known for its wordiness and complexity, and yet in 'The Poetics of Space', Bachelard largely transcends these potential pitfalls and instead produces a meditative, poetic book that was not what I expected. It is still theory, and so not a light read, but the daydreams and thoughts this book inspires whilst reading make it far from an arduous text. What makes this book special is its amazingly straightforward subject matter: the spaces in which we live - cellars, corners, wardrobes, shells - and reading it makes you wonder why there has been so little theoretical consideration of such an important aspect of human life. The synthesis of theory, literature and architecture in this book is an unusual one, but fascinating in its originality.
Bachelard approaches philosophy from the angle of poetry, using a number of different poets and writers to illustrate and expand upon his discussion of how people experience and think about the spaces we inhabit. Quite a different tack from most theory, but as he writes, "How much philosophers would learn, if they would consent to read the poets!" I'm not a fan of poetry, but I'll certainly be following up on a few poets quoted, especially Rilke - Bachelard discusses their work with real insight. Nonetheless, he writes phenomenology rather than literary criticism, yet the extensive use of quotation does not feel at all extraneous to his argument. 'The Poetics of Space' is perhaps aesthetic philosphy that integrates creativity and thought better than anything else I've read.
Why not five stars? It takes a little while to get into Bachelard's style, and the theory-dense introduction is not the easiest of openings.
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102 of 107 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Nov. 1997
Format: Paperback
The Poetics of Space is one of the most inspiring books I have ever read. It is to be taken slowly - the author's primary idea is that people crave spaces that inspire them to daydream. The style of the book is one that inspires daydreams itself; you will suddenly find that you have placed the book in your lap and you were off daydreaming! Poetics of Space is a methodical, carefully argued book which tells us that we read spaces like we read a book. There is a distinct psychology to each type of space - attics, cellars, the forest, and nests are just some of the spaces examined. The author was chair of the Philosophy department at the Sorbonne. For most of his life, he examined the philosophy of science, but in his later years he turned to artistic reverie as his main subject. The book is written with thought, love, and passion and is a tour-de-force. Highly recommended to those who enjoy poetry, philosophy, architecture or art.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Peasant TOP 500 REVIEWER on 16 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
Bachelard is attempting something so difficult it is no wonder this is a very demanding read. Having spent a lifetime doing "proper" philosophy, he realises that the analytical, critical approach used, not just by science but by philosophy, literary criticism and most writing about the arts, has been destroying our ability to appreciate and understand precisely that which makes much of human experience worthwhile. Here he seeks to deal with image and idea, imagination and poetry, without analysing them to death. It is like appreciating the butterfly as the air bears it amongst the flowers, rather than poisoning it and pinning it to a board.

Using poetry and contemplating our familiar spaces, Bachelard focuses our attention on the everyday, that which is usually taken for granted. But he is not trying to analyse our responses so much as induce us to understand how differently we can, if encouraged, see the world. Bachelard focuses our attention on ways of thinking that are non-linear, on the resonances of the poetic imagination. Because academics are accustomed to using the terminology of the intellect; analysis, criticism, taxonomy; it is a struggle to convey what he is driving at. Though I am used to reading philosophy, I confess I found Bachelard's language at times painfully opaque. His train of thought will be laid out in such a way that one is excited, eager to follow him forward. Then one encounters several sentences which, though they are grammatical, convey no graspable sense; they use irreconcilable words in an order that has no conceivable meaning. Is this Bachelard being extremely clever, and me rather dim? Would this make perfect sense in the original French, to a Francophone reader? Is the problem in fact one of translation?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By RB Davies on 11 May 2008
Format: Paperback
This book literally dragged me through my third year and I'm sure had I read it in year one my work would have had much more substance and depth. Many books recommended in the first few years of an architecture degree are split into practical tips on drawing, basic construction and work of other architects and they're treaties; hardly any works discuss conceptual meanings of space and how the subtleties of decisions one makes in a design or layout affect experience and character. A wonderfully written book (the only downside is its pretty intense), easy to have on you all the time, room in the margin for scribbles & like nothing you will have read before. This book opened my eyes to what architecture is, and should be.
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