Spatial Politics in Contemporary London Literature
Writing Architecture and the Body
Routledge – 2013 – 200 pages
This book analyses the spatial politics of a range of British novelists writing on London since the 1950s, emphasizing spatial representation as an embodied practice at the point where the architectural landscape and the body enter into relation with each other. Colombino visits the city in connection with its boundaries, abstract spaces and natural microcosms, as they stand in for all the conflicting realms of identity; its interstices and ruins are seen as inhabited by bodies that reproduce internally the external conditions of political and social struggle. The study brings into focus the fiction in which London provides not a residual interest but a strong psychic-phenomenological grounding, and where the awareness of the physical reality of buildings and landscape conditions shape the concept of the subject traversing this space. Authors such as J. G. Ballard, Geoff Dyer, Michael Moorcock, Peter Ackroyd, Iain Sinclair, Geoff Ryman, Tom McCarthy, Michael Bracewell and Zadie Smith are considered in order to map the relationship of body, architecture and spatial politics in contemporary creative prose on the city. Through readings that are consistently informed by recent developments in urban studies and reflections formulated by architects, sociologists, anthropologists and art critics, this book offers a substantial contribution to the burgeoning field of literary urban studies.
"Epistemologically adventurous, insightful and rigorously researched, this highly original, nuanced and always readable study is written with panache and an originality of argument and depth of insight that puts this volume at the head of such studies." – Julian Wolfreys, Loughborough University, UK
"The author combines methodologies and theoretical models with ease, and the interdisciplinary nature of the book is both necessary and refreshing." – Letizia Modena, Villanova University, USA
"Laura Colombino’s intelligently researched and concisely written book provides timely and essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary fictions of London" – Nick Hubble, School of Arts, Brunel University, UK
Introduction 1. Modular Bodies and Architecture as Skin: J. G. Ballard (1956-1975) 2. Human Ruins and Architectural Spectres (the 1980s and Beyond) PART I: Insubstantial Bodies and the City’s Organicism: Peter Ackroyd, Geoff Dyer and Michael Bracewell PART II: Ruins and Memory: Michael Moorcock and Iain Sinclair 3. Traumatized Subjects and Chaotic Substances: Iain Sinclair (the 1990s and the Millennium) 4. Corporeality within Abstract Space (from the 1970s to the Post-millennial) PART I: Islands and Rifts: J. G. Ballard and Geoff Ryman PART II: Stages and Intersections: Tom McCarthy and Zadie Smith Coda
Laura Colombino is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Genoa, Italy.