Representing the city or urban representation? Questions concerning literary cities not only arise when the object of study is the impact of modern urban culture on the human intellectual and sensory apparatus and the various literary representations of this impact. You do not have to focus directly on problems related to the study of modern urban life to realize how greatly the modern city has influenced twentieth-century . Even the most cursory examination of the early twentieth-century novel shows that an astonishing number of the great works from this period are intimately linked to the image of the city; we all possess an imaginary literary Baedecker with reminiscences of ’s Paris, ’s Dublin, Robert Musil’s , ’s , Alfred Döblin’s Berlin, ’s London, ’s New York, Alexander Bely’s Petersburg, and so on. Franco Moretti has observed that the image of the novel in the nineteenth century was closely related to the idea of the nation state, and that it was the nation state that formed the proper space of the novel, materially as well as mentally.1 This space included the city as an element, and often as a crucial one, but still only as one of many interrelated parts, as we see it indicated in the metaphorical image of the capital as the head of the national organism. The protagonists of the nineteenth-century novels were French, Russians, English, and so forth. By contrast, their heirs in the twentieth-century novel do not live in national capitals, but in metropolizes in a radicalized and far more isolated sense. These metropolizes are no longer quintessential representatives of national organisms, but organisms in their own right, integral universes, which, furthermore, seem less characteristic by being specific cities rather than cities in a somewhat more general sense (as Musil puts it, “… one always wants to know quite exactly what particular town it is. This distracts attention from more important things. No special significance should be attached to the name of the

1 Franco Moretti, Atlas of the European Literature 1800-1900, London, 1998, 17. 226 Frederik Tygstrup city”).2 Through this new relation to the phenomenon of the city, the novel ceases to be national literature and becomes world literature. The literary world map no longer consists of nation states, each characterized by a certain relationship between city and country, centre and periphery, but of a system of metropolizes. These metropolizes seem to have a closer relationship to each other than to their respective national contexts, and the non-urbanized regions are similarly reduced from being vital contexts to being mere residual left-over spaces, something not yet urbanized – reduced from a positive to a negative definition. In Balzac you can still find images of rural production as a fundamental prerequisite for urban circulation, while rural environments in the twentieth-century novel are more likely to signal regression than production. But this still does not amount to literary history; it is only history, a heavily stylized version of the history of how the relationship between country and city was conceived throughout the nineteenth century. There are, however, two more specific literary historical points that could be made within the framework of this general historical survey. The first point concerns the nature of the conspicuously massive thematic use of the city in the novel of the 1920s and 30s, which has not been superseded either earlier or later. The second point concerns some quite technical aspects of the representation of the city in the modern novel, which in turn involves the interrelation between the representation of the city and the formal development of the novel. It is tempting to impute a certain, mutual fund of experience to the great generation of Modernist novelists as a historical basis for the more or less common use of the city as a theme, as if the city or life in the city had suddenly demanded a concentrated attention. But it would surely be fallacious to link this experience directly to the phenomenon of urbanization as such, to a violent expansion of the cities and of the characteristics of urban life in this specific period. Such a procedure would blind us to local differences, as well as to the longer historical perspective – that is, to the common experience, not of a single generation, but of an entire epoch – that “the form of the city changes faster ... than the heart of a mortal being”, to quote Baudelaire’s famous poem.3 The specific generational experience should rather be identified as a historical reorganization of the ways of thinking of the urban phenomenon than related to directly measurable changes: an “archeological” change in the ways of thinking of the city, thinking of urban life, and thinking of the relationship between the city and its environments. In 1973, Raymond Williams remarked that “the common image of the country is now an image of the past, and the common image of the city an image of the future”.4 Throughout The Country and the

2 Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities, trans. Eithne Wilkins and Ernst Kaiser, New York, 1953, I, 4. 3 “(la forme d'une ville/ Change plus vite, hélas! que le cœur d'un mortel)”, “Le Cygne”, in Œuvres complètes, Paris, 1975, 85. 4 Raymond Williams, The Country and the City, London, 1973, 356 ff.