The author attempts to get at much of Rio's past through the ways in which “writers, artists, and urban dwellers … perceive, remember, manipulate, and imagine” the city (p. xii). He focuses on the area called the Cidade Nova to do this. He emphasizes class and race relations as well as cultural expression over time, particularly in the era from the mid-nineteenth century through to the Estado Novo (1937–1945). It is pioneering, ambitious work, but, in terms of history, its successes are often problematic.

The Cidade Nova was a new extension of Rio, built up in the early nineteenth century to facilitate travel between the monarch's country seat and the old port city, which stretched from its origins along the eastern and northern shores to the west and the south, between the hills and over the wetlands characterizing the geography. The author...

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