The City and Literature The City In American Literature - Essay

The City In American Literature

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

Blanche Housman Gelfant

SOURCE: "The City Novel as Literary Genre," in The American City Novel, University of Oklahoma Press, 1954, pp. 3-24.

[In the following essay, Gelfant traces the development of the modern American urban novel as a distinct literary form.]

INTENTION

In Ben Hecht's A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago, a newspaperman dreams of writing a great novel about the American city. He wants to discover the inmost and essential meaning of city life so that his novel can say definitively: "The city is so and so. Everyone feels this and this. No matter who they are or where they live, or what their...

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