The City in Postmodern Fiction. Towards New Ways of Reading Urban Images in Contemporary Literature

Publication date: 2009-01
ISBN: 3836487969
Publisher: Verlag Dr. Müller; Saarbrücken


Lievens, Jeroen


urban studies, postmodern fiction, new narratives, downtown New York


Over the course of the 20th century, the city has changed almost beyond recognition: from a dense, central city into a sprawling urban realm restructured by escalating processes of delocalization, globalization, simulation, diversification and segregation. In fact, the city has changed so much that literary scholars seem at a loss to make sense of the omnipresent, but atypical urban images in postmodern fiction. Paradoxically, then, a once prolific literary category - the urban novel - is falling into disuse precisely when the process of urbanization is climaxing. This book aims to reconcile literary studies with the postmodern city by providing new and updated strategies for reading urban images. Literary studies are brought into close dialogue with the richly interdisciplinary field of contemporary urban studies. Also, the spatial dimension of the "urban novel" is deepened by politically more savvy theories of space. This rejuvenated notion of the city in fiction is then applied to a corpus of "new narrative" novels, emerging largely from New York's redeveloping downtown area in the 1980s and 90s. This study should be of interest to all students of the city image in fiction.