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7 - Synthesis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2012

Caroline Rosenthal
Affiliation:
Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, Germany
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Summary

Where there is space, there is being.

— Henri Lefèvbre, The Production of Space

Concrete Abstractions

In a recent article Toronto-based geographer Amy Lavender Harris wrote, “Few of us can say we were born in this city, but we give birth to it every day.” Her statement vividly captures how urban space is not only defined by buildings and street grids but is produced in the daily interactions of people, in how they use urban space and make it come alive, and in the symbolic practices that imagine the city anew time and again. A city, to paraphrase the Canadian cultural geographer Rob Shields once more, is a “concrete abstraction” (“A Guide,” 231), which arises on the crossroads of dream and reality, idea and materiality, fiction and fact. Fictions about cities not only represent a material city but contribute to making and changing the specific syntax and semantics inherent to that city — and to the nation, whose values and cultural orders that city epitomizes in a myriad of different forms. As much as the four novels I analyzed differ in content and style, they show striking parallels in how they thematically and aesthetically deal with the urban. A corpus of four texts is hardly large enough to discern general tendencies in contemporary urban fiction, and as the urban and its representation has diversified into numerous different perspectives and ceased to be a synecdoche for human existence in general, it would not be advisable to draw such general conclusions, either.

Type
Chapter
Information
New York and Toronto Novels after Postmodernism
Explorations of the Urban
, pp. 264 - 278
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2011

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  • Synthesis
  • Caroline Rosenthal, Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, Germany
  • Book: New York and Toronto Novels after Postmodernism
  • Online publication: 12 September 2012
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  • Synthesis
  • Caroline Rosenthal, Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, Germany
  • Book: New York and Toronto Novels after Postmodernism
  • Online publication: 12 September 2012
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Synthesis
  • Caroline Rosenthal, Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, Germany
  • Book: New York and Toronto Novels after Postmodernism
  • Online publication: 12 September 2012
Available formats
×