Fragmented Urban Images fuses urban studies and literary criticism to examine the city image in American fiction in the twentieth century. The study proposes a reassessment of the complex interaction between society, city, and novel. It focuses particularly on the ways in which the diversity of fragmented experience and the ideological bias in the assessment of urban condition reappear in the modernist city images. The study finds that, contrary to appearances, cities can hardly be called agents in modernity. As expressions of fundamental divisions in society, they are crucial catalysts, however. Eight influential city novels are interpreted to provide a distinct view of the interrelation between fragmented experience, fictional perception, and urban thought in modernity: Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane, Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Manhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos, Native Son by Richard Wright, Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby, and The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon.
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