The Impressionists are world renowned for their vibrant depictions of the atmospheric effects and shimmering beauty of the French countryside. These paintings, often produced in Paris, found an enthusiastic market in the city. The inhabitants of that hub of modernity had an apparently paradoxical interest in the mythologies of rural living. As the city became more and more the motive force of social change so the country was understood as the anchor of changelessness and nostalgia. The essayists in this volume examine the complex relationship between country and city. Their work draws widely on the contemporary culture exploring folklore and children's literature, anarchism and urbanism, and offers significant new insights into the work of major artists and writers including Courbet, Millet, Monet, Van Gogh and Zola.