Ephemeral New York City: Reflections of the City in Literature



The transformation of cities has often been expressed in fiction, in visual arts and other media in which narratives have been created to give expression to the city and allow us to imagine and attempt to define it. Few cities have had more forms of representation than New York, for it projects itself into the minds of people through its landmarks, transformations and willingness to absorb the new. In works such as Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville, Washington Square by Henry James, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote, The Thistles of Sweden by William Maxwell and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, one can follow a continuum of change, shifting reflections on the city and, at the same time, a remarkable resilience that has redefined it constantly, while still remaining in the horizon of the dreams of many. This article aims to trace these movements within the scope of the works mentioned, while at the same time referring to New York’s development into a global metropolis throughout time. It also focuses on how these changes affect our imaginary regarding the city.

Keywords: New York City, literature, representation