Includes link to entire book content free of charge.
Originally posted on Readings of the City:
This book is an accessible introduction to the subject of psychogeography, which put simply, is a mix of the two disciplines of geography and psychology. Instead of looking at the physical environment in an empirical, cartographic sense, psychogeography attempts to understand space through the more subjective manner in which affects the individual.
Coverley’s prose and structure is clear; the book is chronologically laid out. The main medium through which the ‘discipline’ is expressed is through through literary works. Starting with the earliest examples Coverley discusses 17th & 18th century interpretations of London through Defoe, Blake and de Quincy and argues these figures paved the way for the critical ‘urban wondered’ which later, through Walter Benjman developed into the flâneur. The chapter in the Situationist International is a particularly useful in providing an overview, but read as a whole the SI can be seen in a broad, historical context. Coverley demonstrates that counter to Guy Debord’s claims of being the first to ‘invent’ the tactic of the dérive, the SI sit in a rich tradition. The book ends with modern examples of practicing psychogeographers such as Iain Sinclair whose most notable work is his walk around the M25 circular.
At around 130 pages and covering such a broad range of history it is naturally going to be somewhat reductive, but what makes this a really useful book is the depth of the references. For anyone interested in the subject this is an excellent starting point, and will no doubt inspire you to investigate some of the material that Coverley discusses.