Modernism In James Thomson's The City Of Dreadful Night

1103 Words5 Pages
James Thomson’s, The City of Dreadful Night, provides insight into the restless psyche of a pre-modern subject trapped within an emerging urban space. Central to the rise of metropolitan centres was a shift away from pre-modern norms and conventions. Key historical events concerning immigration and the emergence of the money economy gave rise to a particular set of values attributed to urban life. In order to situate Thomson’s poem within the context of modernism, key ideas regarding the emergence of the urban centre (Soares), the birth of the modern subject (Williams) and the modern subject’s interaction with the metropolis (Simmel), are considered. With key ideas emphasised by Mills, Thomson’s poem explores the trauma pre-modern individuals experienced during the period of physical and psychological transition into modern life. Thomson’s poem James Thomson’s poem is essentially a poem regarding the physical and mental dislocation of a pre-modern subject within an emerging modern era. Thomson’s speaker appears to have developed a form of restlessness throughout the poem, a key characteristic of the modern individual. The poem was constructed within a world undergoing a physical as well as psychological transition from what had been attributed to pre-modern life, to what had been attributed to the modern. Thomson emphasises the trauma associated with the radical transitioning through his speaker’s sleep deprivation. Through the displacement of pre-modern values, individuals
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