Modernism, Transportation and the Etymological Imagination


We are accustomed to reading modernist works in the light of actual cities, glossing literary setting as a somewhat faithful recreation of place. This tendency is not without cause: James Joyce famously boasted that if Dublin were to disappear, it could be reconstructed out of Ulysses. On the other hand, Virginia Woolf cautioned against the consolidation of map and territory, arguing that “we run the risk of disillusionment if we try to turn such phantom cities into tangible brick and mortar.” The examples to follow sever setting from the “experiential realism” of place, only to reconnect it to the built environment in novel ways….