Review of "Imagined Cities: Urban Experience and the Language of the Novel"
University of North Carolina Press
In his preface to Imagined Cities, Robert Alter gives the reader fair warning about what his book will and will not deliver. Alter is not interested in the "material realities" of the city, or "how the novel 'represents' or 'reflects' the reality of the city," thus sweeping aside Marxist and New Historicist approaches. Instead, he wants to explore how the "experimental realism" practiced by writers such as Dickens, Flaubert, and Kafka registers a new form of urban experience that focuses on the sensory perception of the individual.