Tourists climb the Eiffel Tower to see Paris. Parisians know that to really see the city you must descend into the metro. In this revelatory book, Marc Auge takes readers below Paris in a work that is both an ethnography of the city and a personal narrative. Guiding us through history, memory, and physical space, Auge juxtaposes the romance of the metro with the reality of multiethnic urban France. His work is part autobiography, with impressions from a lifetime riding the trains; part meditation on self and memory reflected in the people and places underneath Paris; part analysis of a place where the third world and the first world meet, where remnants of cultures move and press together; and part a reflection on anthropology in an era of globalization and urban development.
Although he is a pillar of French thought, In the Metro is Auge's first major critical and creative work translated into English. It shows him to be firmly rooted in a tradition of literary ethnography that reaches back to Claude Levi-Strauss and Michel de Certeau, but also engaged in current theoretical debates in literary and cultural studies. In Auge's idiosyncratic and innovative approach, the act of observing the quotidian is elevated to an art. The writer and his history become part of the field he observes, and anthropology interacts with a site -- urban life -- usually reserved for sociology and cultural studies. Throughout, Auge reveals a passion for his milieu, seeing the metro as a place rich with history and literature -- an eclectic egalitarian society.