ISSN: 20509790
First published in 2014
3 issues per volume
Volume 5 Issue 1
Cover Date: March 2018
‘Kerist I wish I was a skyscraper’: John Dos Passos’ Manhattan Transfer, skyscrapers and the predatory modern city
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Authors:  Adam R. McKee 
DOI: 10.1386/jucs.5.1.53_1

literature,modernism,skyscrapers,New York,capitalist space,verticality

John Dos Passos’ Manhattan Transfer (1925) is one of the first American novels to significantly engage the figure of the skyscraper in modern New York City. Throughout the novel, Dos Passos employs the physical and symbolic structure of the skyscraper to examine the effects of capitalism on the spaces of the burgeoning metropolis at the beginning of the twentieth century. In the text, Dos Passos utilizes skyscrapers to critique the capitalist and overly individualized spaces of the city and the dangers that these spaces pose to the novel’s characters. The critique in the text is compounded by the fact that Dos Passos’ characters find solace neither in the opening vertical spaces of the city nor in the public spaces of the street. In the end, the novel’s characters are faced with alienating and dehumanized spaces in the hostile and predatory metropolis.
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