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The Invisible Apocalyptic City: The Affectivity of Urbanity, Movement, and Desire in William Blake’s ‘London’, Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis, and Ivan Vladislavić’s The Exploded View
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2016 (English)In: Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies, ISSN 1218-7364, Vol. 22, no 2, 305-325 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article investigates apocalyptic aspects of William Blake’s “London”, Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis, and Ivan Vladislavić’s The Exploded View. The analysis explores the suitability of the urban and suburban settings of these works as backdrops for religious, semi-religious, and secular versions of apocalyptic structures. Furthermore, the central argument utilizes a Heideggerian conceptualisation of desire in distinguishing between ontical craving (the striving for materialist security and pleasure) and ontological desire (the need of a spiritual life-dimension). These aspects reveal underlying affective layers of the primarily negative images of urban and suburban life in these three works. Moreover, the concept of desire is in DeLillo’s and Vladislavić’s works linked to the notion of speed (and lack thereof) in order to highlight modern dilemmas of ontical craving in capitalist urban settings. The investigation suggests that urbanity provides an adequate venue for apocalyptic narratives in three interrelated ways. Firstly, urbanity intensifies individual suffering, egotism, and alienation in a context which has the potential of providing the ground for collaboration, community, and fraternity. Secondly, it intensifies the affectivity of capitalist ruthlessness and speed in an environment that paradoxically supports and rejects these forces (hence the memento mori motif in all three literary texts). Thirdly, by presenting such a dark vision of fallen mankind it concurrently forwards a redemptive or cathartic perspective in the form of a literary response to materialist decay.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 22, no 2, 305-325 p.
Keyword [en]
affectivity, urbanity, apocalypse, ontical craving, ontological desire
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
English; Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-137666OAI: diva2:1063165
Available from: 2017-01-09 Created: 2017-01-09 Last updated: 2017-01-12Bibliographically approved

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Wrethed, Joakim
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