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Lewis Mumford Biography

(1895–1990), The Story of Utopias, Sticks and Stones, Technics and Civilisation, The Culture of Cities

American cultural critic, born in Flushing, Long Island, New York, educated at Columbia and New York universities. He taught at several colleges and universities. His first work, The Story of Utopias (1922), was followed by Sticks and Stones (1924), which considered American life through its architecture. His many books have challenged modern life from a perspective deeply rooted in a respect for the individual. Among the subjects of his scathing critiques are the organization of city life and the design of basic implements of living. Such themes are developed in the group of related volumes which extends from Technics and Civilisation (1934), through The Culture of Cities (1938) and The City in History (1961), to the two-volume The Myth of the Machine (1967, 1970). Other notable works are The Condition of Man (1944), The Conduct of Life (1951), and a study of Thomas Jefferson's contribution to American architecture in The South in Architecture (1941). Several earlier works were devoted to a study of literature, in which he made a significant contribution to the critical analysis of the role of puritanism in American culture and the establishment of the canon of nineteenth-century literature as we now understand it. These include The Golden Day (1926), a book on New England themes; Herman Melville (1929), a psychocritical biography; and The Brown Decades (1931), a study of artistic development from the Civil War until 1895. Other works are Faith for Living (1940), In the Name of Sanity (1954), and Transformations of Man (1956). Mumford's greatest achievement is a study of civilization and world history through the perspective of the development of cities in The City in History (1961) and The Highway and the City (1963). Later works include The Urban Prospect (1968), Interpretations and Forecasts (1973), and a series of autobiographical and personal memoirs in Findings and Keepings—Analects for an Autobiography (1975), My Works and Days (1979), and Sketches from Life: The Autobiography of Lewis Mumford (1982).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Mr Polly to New France