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Manhattan transfer

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 5461 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Manhattan Transfer In The Context Of Cubism And The New Metropolis Around 1900


As being part of the Modernism movement, Dos Passos works are strikingly different from the literature of the 19th century. At first sight, his way of narrating makes the impression of being very dense as he uses a rich language, full of colors, smells, allusions. While this is not unconventional in itself, the structures of his narration are. He is not clearly defining a protagonist, stories start out of the blue and then suddenly disappears again. Manhattan Transfer, maybe the climax of his writing, confuses and at the same time fascinates with its multiple strings of narration which sometimes touch, sometimes entangle but never lead to a great finale, like one would have expected in earlier literature. Dos Passos introduces a huge cast of characters but none of them clearly become protagonists, while the metropolis of New York City remains a constant topic and might even be claimed as the true protagonist of the novel. What motivated Dos Passos to this new style of writing? Where did he find inspiration and which contemporary artists influenced him? While this is a very complex question to answer, one certainly important aspect is his affiliation with painters in Paris and New York. Among them were famous impressionists, expressionists, and especially cubists. During his time in Europe, Dos Passos attended Gertrude Stein`s get together where he got to know writers such as Guillaume Apollinaire and painters such as Georges Braques that were in great favor of the just newly developing Cubism. Against this background, it is worth investigating if Dos Passos` style of writing and techniques bear a resemblance to cubist pieces of art. Therefore I would like to analyze which specific cubist techniques were used in the book and how these fit in with the general development of cubism, modernist literature and the prominent topic of the metropolis New York after 1900.

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Manhattan Transfer was published 1925 and covers the narrated time from 1897 until 1924, a time, which was characterized by progress, industrialization and a new urbanity. The population of the country was divided and torn between blind faith in progress and critical engagement with the realities. The city became the new center of modern, metropolitan life, especially New York City as the population exceeded 4 million by the end of World War I. Artists of all kinds were attracted by the city and desired to work directly on the pulse of times.

John Dos Passos’s was born 1896 in Chicago as an illegitimate son of an American mother with aristocratic blood and a lawyer, whose father emigrated from Portugal. As a young boy, Dos Passos traveled through Europe with his mother and wrote his first stories and articles. He studied at Harvard and Spain, until he volunteered as an ambulance driver in World War I. The experience of the war dominated his first two novels One Man’s Initiation (1920) and Three Soldiers (1921). From spring 1919 until late 1922, he remained in Paris and in Spain as a civilist. Upon his return to America, Dos Passos not only devoted himself to writing, but he also engaged in social projects, which lead to a more and more critical stance toward society. His main works include the USA trilogy, consisting of the novels The 42nd Parallel (1930), 1919 (1932) and The Big Money (1936) and of course Manhattan Transfer which was written in 1925. John Dos Passos died 1970 in Baltimore (Gale, 2005-2006). Dos Passos’ affiliation with contemporary artists became an important source of inspiration to him and influenced him significantly in his artistry.

The aim of this thesis is to reveal the transfer of cubist techniques from painting to writing in Manhattan Transfer and to embed my findings in the context of a new evolving Modern Art and a changed urban lifestyle at the beginning of the 20th century. My thesis consists of three major parts. First, I would like to briefly introduce the life in New York around 1900. Furthermore, I attempt to give a brief introduction in the contemporary reception and depiction of the metropolis in order to the set the right frame for the analysis of Manhattan Transfer. Although this part could of course be covered quite extensively, I will only focus on aspects which are unavoidable for understanding the development of a new style of writing in Dos Passos` work. I then move on to concretely look into Cubism and the techniques that developed between 1910 and 1914. During this period the two original cubist currents, namely analytical and synthetic cubism, developed and within them the techniques that are used in MT. My aim is to show the use of cubist techniques in Manhattan Transfer and to illustrate why they are important for the overall concept of the novel.

Although techniques from all modern arts of that era can be found in the novel, I will specifically focus on Cubism. This seems particularly interesting to me, as the incorporation of montage and text collage, earthy colors and multi-perspectivity seems to particularly contribute to the uniqueness of the novel. Furthermore, I have not been able to find a lot of scientific research on linking Manhattan Transfer to Cubism. In general, only very few texts link Cubism to concrete pieces of literature and even those remain at the surface. The analysis of Manhattan Transfer could thus be regarded as an example for a possible approach to the analysis of modern metropolitan novels. It is an attempt to offer a new vision, a new access to these novels.

Manhattan Transfer In The Context Of The Metropolis

Life In New York Around 1900

The novel Manhattan Transfer takes place at the time of the melting pot era: The narrated time begins around 1875, and already at that time, New York had the character of a big city, both economically and culturally. The steady inflow of immigrants from all over the world – most of them arrived by ship – illustrate how much the “myth of Manhattan” influenced the idea about this new center of the world. New York was regarded as part of the New World to be conquered, in which anyone could quickly come by fame, money and honor, if he was only willing to make enough efforts. New York grew steadily and soon took on a dramatic scale: the population rose from 1.9 million people in the late 19th century to 4.2 million around 1900, and in 1925 New York already had 7.7 million inhabitants. Immigrants poured into Manhattan by the thousands and all of came there because of their dream of a better life. However, construction noise, crowded conditions and hectic bustle characterized the daily lives of most of the residents.

However, the crowded conditions contrasted the anonymity of the big city. Especially the many newcomers, who mainly grew up in small countryside communities, experienced a feeling of loss and loneliness. Unlike their home towns, New York did not offer a predefined social network or spiritual reference. With freedom came the need to choose among many options and the need for investment in relationships that were no longer self-evident. It was very well possible to meet someone only once and then never see him or her again and it was not necessarily a big issue to neglect religious obligations. Individuals became a lot more self-reliant in their decisions which did only grant more freedom but could also lead to severe disorientation.

Another prevalent characteristic was the ongoing industrialization and mechanization. Not only was the city filled with construction noise but the streets were crammed with cars, trams, carriages and pedestrians. The trams were regarded as a major threat to life and limb and accidents occurred frequently. The modernization of production and transportation however contrasted with the desolate housing and sanitary conditions. The city’s first underground sewer goes back to the mid of the 19th century but most waste was “typically disposed of in backyard outhouses, dumped into the gutter or poured into ponds and streams” (Markowitz, 2003) Many lived in crowded tenement houses deprived of running water or sanitary facilities and the main cause of death were infectious diseases.

Altogether, these living conditions were completely different from the way of life most people were used too. The city was an overwhelming place and sensory overload became an every-day challenge. There was so much information to process and so many decisions to be made that the individual could very easily feel overchallenged and burned out. But maybe it was also due to this rich input, that the metropolis has been a place ever since where new currents develop and creativity blossoms. Boundaries are crossed when cultures mix and inspire one another; especially so in cities like New York. The artistic representation of the urban circumstances of life, however, became a crisis of reception.

Depiction Of The City In The Novel

By choosing a multitude of narrators and storylines, John Dos Passos creates a multifaceted picture of Manhattan and, in a way, let`s the city present itself. He consciously chooses not to present the city subjectively and negates a concise intermediary narrator who tells the reader what is worth seeing and what is not. Klotz describes this phenomenon very precisely, when he writes: „Dos Passos´ Fiktion geht dahin, die Stadt sich selber zu überlassen, gleichsam heimlich zu belauschen, damit sie unbefangen sich gebe, wie sie ist.“ (Klotz, 1992, p. 340)107 A good example for this is the figure of Jimmy Herf. He is a newcomer to New York City and take the reader on his exploration through the streets of Manhattan. He strolls around throughout several sequences, immerses in the hurly-burly of the city, changes settings frequently and sneaks through all parts of Manhattan and all classes of people. In that sense, Jimmy Herf truly represents the secret eavesdropper who reveals the real characteristics of the big city.

Dos Passos reduces the metropolis New York to its core Manhattan, a place which has its own its own rhythm, an independent entity in which all actions and events take place but which still represents the metropolis as a whole. Manhattan is not only the framework for the novel but turns out to be an independent figure that with distinct characteristics. The qualities that Dos Passos ascribes to the city turn it into a living organism, which directs the characters and controls their actions. Manhattan becomes the hero of the novel – though by necessity a tragic hero. The narrative never leaves New York or its surroundings. The novel more or less begins with Bud entering the city and ends with Jimmy Herf leaving it. Major events such as World War I occur offstage and whenever characters leave the city, the reader looses track of their whereabouts.

Although the city is very multifaceted, more than anything else, Manhattan is depicted as a monstrous creature, corroded by decay, and the motif of destructiveness is prevalent throughout the whole novel. Already right at the beginning, Dos Passos draws a dark and negatively-connoted image of Manhattan:

Three gulls wheel above the broken boxes, orangerinds, spoiled cabbage heads that heave between the splintered planktonic walls, the green waves spume under the round bow as the ferry, skidding on the tide, crashes, gulps the broken water, slides, settle slowly into the slip. Handwinches whirl with jingle of chains. Gates fold upwards, feet step out across the crack, men and women through the press manuresmelling wooden tunnel of the ferry house, crushed and jostling like apples fed down a chute into a press. (Dos Passos, p. 15)

Dirty rotten food acts as a metaphor for decay and takes away all energy from the originally positive scene in which immigrants arrive in America, full of hope for a better life. Looking at the three major parts of the novel, one can clearly observer the motif of circular movement in the city, which Dos Passos combines with the portrayal of despair and death. Two major cases stick out in, and they are both suicides: Bud and Stan. These deaths point to a larger tragedy. New York, in its ruthless endeavor for modernization, leaves behind everyone who cannot keep up. Stan’s death is followed by Anna Cohen’s almost fatal accident; Lily Herf’s stroke precedes Uncle Jeff’s deadly infection with influenza. The novel describes numerous instances of tenement houses set afire, tram accidents, car crashes, and murders.

New Forms Of Expression

Contemporary Reception In The Arts

In the early 20th century, one could notice an increasing number of Western literary texts that dealt with the topic “the city”. With the emergence of the modern metropolis and a growing number of people inhibiting urban spaces, the city gained more and more influence on artistic creation. The consideration of the city in literature at the time of the appearance of Manhattan Transfer was not entirely new, as already ancient poets like Horace and Virgil dedicated works to this topic. However, Alain-René Lesage’s Diable Boiteux from 1707 is regarded as one of the first European novels, which takes on the topic of the metropolis. In the 19th Century, among others, Notre-Dame de Paris (1831) by Victor Hugo and Le ventre de Paris (1873) by Emile Zola revolved around the city and its inhabitants. Manhattan Transfer, finally, is one of the first urban novels of the 20th Century. On the one hand, the city was a mythical projection screen for human dreams, its main motif being freedom which seems to offer upward mobility, modern lifestyle, and living on the pulse of the times. On the other hand, contemporary literature reveals the dark side of the metropolis, turning it into a monstrous organism that devours people mercilessly juggernaut, an amoral Gomorrah of modern times, into “sin city”. The metaphors used include a tantalizing woman, a maze, and a new Babylon. They all point to the dark, but also mystical side of the metropolis.

The reader’s situation corresponds to that of someone situated in the middle of the picture which requires a new form of seeing. In his essay “Die Wahrnehmung der Großstadt,“ Manfred Smuda talks about the “process of learning how to see“: The subject must try to set the sheer endless and overwhelming stream of impressions of the metropolis in relation to his or her own experiences and make sense of it. By doing so, the subject will replace the former chronological narrative by a dynamic and simultaneous way of representing urban impressionsnm (Smuda, 1992, p. 167). The city is no longer just a contemporary topic but a topic which leads to an intense discussion of changing and increasingly more complex perception. Smuda writes: “Um der Großstadterfahrung gerecht zu werden, müssen die modernen Künste ihre Medien revolutionieren, vor allem auf dem Felde der Narrativität“ (Smuda, 1992, p. 163). The recipient no longer stands outside of the narration but in the middle of it. He no longer just consumes the illusory reality of the narration but needs to bring order, chronology and logic into the chaos of impressions.

The presentation of the city not only became one of the most important themes of literature, but also of modern art. When investigating the motif of the city in literature, we will automatically be pointed towards the visual arts, and vice versa. The relationship between modernism and the city manifests itself both in impressionism, expressionism, as well as in cubism. The flood of incoming impressions and the enormous pace of the city, rapid change and the ongoing spread of technology forced artists to search for new techniques in order to capture a single moment. The art of impressionism, for example, uses a light brush style to capture atmosphere and excerpts on the canvas. Many texts from the same time reveal an influence by impressionism as they concentrate on small fraction of what can be perceived and set descriptive words side by side, like light brush strokes. When it comes to displaying a plot, Prof. Becker observes the following: The literary transposition of this dynamic outside world, the display of instantaneous impressions and the rapid succession of events required the abandonment of a broad-based, chronologically and causally structured plot. Epic short forms such as the sketch and short pieces of prose pieces seemed better suited to depict the dynamism, speed and pace of metropolitan world (Becker, 1993, p. 65). The “narrative order” loses its significance and makes way for new ways of representation, resulting from new experiences.

However, capturing isolated moments was not enough for some modern artists. They desired to create a bigger picture and wanted to be able to show the overflow of sensory perception and resulting fragmentation in their art. Dos Passos was one of them and his desire to create a new way of expression was shared by many of his contemporary colleagues. “[…] more than anything else, the French cubists and post-impressionists – men who chose to paint not one landscape literally, but to pick and choose among the visual objects before them, manipulate them, present them in fragments, arrange them in esthetic patterns, use them as freely as composers in music use the themes they put together” (Belkind, 1971, p. 68). Especially Expressionism and Cubism sustainably influenced the relationship between literature and visual arts. In her book “Korrespondenzen zwischen Literatur und Bildender Kunst im 20. Jahrhundert“, Swantje Petersen writes: “Die Künste beeinflussen sich in dieser Zeit nicht nur, sondern sie durchdringen einander jetzt auch. Visuell-Bildhaftes findet Einlaß in die Literatur, und vor allem wird zunehmend die Sprache ins Bild integriert. Aus dieser Verbindung entstehen im Laufe des Jahrhunderts zahlreiche Mischformen, wie […] Schriftcollagen und poetische Textbilder […]“ (Petersen, 1995, p. 11).

Cubism From 1910 Till 1914

As many artists around the turn of the century, also Cubists no longer believed in the illusionist representation of reality. “Der Kontext der modernen Großstadt [geriet, L.S.] an die Grenze der Malbarkeit, eine Entwicklung, welche die Maler nicht ignorieren durften […]” (Grasskamp, 1992, p. 273) Instead of concentrating on content, they decided to focus on the problematic issue of representation itself. Painters such as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque developed a completely new approach by analyzing the underlying structure and perspectivity of objects. The underlying idea is to reduce objects to their basic elements: cubes, lines, cylinders, cones and spheres. Most cubist paintings lack any significant content and mainly consist of landscapes, still lives and figures (if any identifiable content at all).

Early Cubism went through two distinct phases. The first stage of Analytic Cubism, lasting from 1910-1912, is characterized by polygonal structural elements, earthy colors, and human figures. The conversion of all objects into geometric shapes remained the most prominent trait. The one-dimensional and mono-perspective view was replaced by a multi-dimensional view on things. The viewer could see all sides of one object simultaneously spread out on the canvas. From the dissolution of the coherent idea of space, Picasso and Braque continued to dissolve the compact appearance of the body. The destruction of form reached its peak, until finally the representation of three-dimensional elements became two-dimensional and merely consisted of surfaces and lines.

The later phase of Synthetic Cubism, lasting from 1912-1914, added collage elements to the painting. Painters added more bold and bright colors to their neutral, organic palette and started using non-paint elements such as sand, newspaper lettering, and cigar wrappers. Picasso and Braque broke the boundaries of the traditional methods of drawing and painting and tended to incorporate materials such as printed oilcloth, wallpaper scraps, and newspapers. These so-called “objets trouvés” virtually brought reality into the pieces of art. While the emphasis was on form, colors became secondary and were only used to shape and contrast the different shapes. The palette became limited to earthy tones, in shades of ocher, browns and greens.

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Manhattan Transfer In The Context Of Cubism


When talking about the depiction of the city in the novel, one of the first things to notice is the unusual narrative situation. Most of the time, the reader finds himself placed inside the person who dominates the current situation and with whom the reader moves. This personal narrator gives insight in both his external impressions as well as in his own consciousness. The task of reflection and representation is, however, not assigned to one specific figure but awarded anew throughout the book. Sometimes we observe the protagonist of the sequence, at other times we get to view the city through the eyes of a seemingly insignificant figure. Just as cubism suddenly allows all perspectives at the same time by moving “around the subject” within one picture, Dos Passos depicts Manhattan from all sides, focussing in wherever he sees fit. A particularly interesting example is the anonymous waiter who, in the middle of his work, looks up to enjoy the view:

When the waiter leans over to take away the empty oystershells he can see through the window, beyond the graystone parapet, the tops of a few buildings jutting like the last trees at the edge of a cliff and the tinfoil reaches of the harbour littered with ships. (Dos Passos, p. 261)

Although, he must have seen this view many times before, he suddenly sees the secene in an almost romantic light. It is exactly this moment that Dos Passos uses a cameralike zoom to focus on a specific part of the panorama. That way, the city is reflected in many different personal figures throughout multiple sequences. This leads to a fractured image of Manhattan, one that represents multiple perspectives at the same time. Allen Belkind concludes:

Manhattan Transfer is one of the earliest of that type of novel which has come to be known as “collectivistic”. The idea is to present a cross-section of the social structure, the social organism; an “over-view” of the subject in which the details of individual lives merge in the general picture of `society`. (Belkind, 1971, p. 61)

This also explains the narrative technique of “spotlights” and the seemingly chaotic fragmentization. The aim is not to depict the individual fate and the whereabouts of a protagonist, but to join the pieces to a large, social study of New York.

Montages And Text Collage

The act of montage is an important aspect for the formal analysis of Manhattan Transfer and therefore needs to be clarified in detail. The term collage was mainly coined by cubists in the early 20th century and montage in that context simply means the arrangement of single pieces as part of a bigger work. Other examples for montage can be found in newspapers and films. Newspapers usually are made up of separate articles, pictures and ads which together form an informative paper. Also film uses montage as it would be absurd if not impossible to show all parts of the storyline which do not give any useful information. While these two forms of montage are obviously useful, montage in literature and painting seem to be a lot more difficult to approach. Volker Klotz expressed that in his Essay „Zitat und Montage in neuerer Literatur und Kunst“:

“Der Bruch mit der Tradition läßt sich nicht nur an deren Produkten ablesen, sondern auch an der Reaktion des zeitgenössischen Publikums. Die Montage der kubistischen und surrealistischen Maler, die lyrischen und epischen Montagen von Apollinaire und Joyce, die musikalischen Montagen Strawinskys und die szenischen Montagen Piscators lösten beim Publikum Befremden, Verblüffung, Abwehr aus. Sie muteten ihm Einstellungen zu, die anders waren, als der vertraute, relativ anstrengungslose Kunstgenuß.“ (Klotz, 1992, p. 181)

This rather effortless consumption of art particularly applies to the direct, chronological and organized novels of the 18th and 19th century. The goal was to produce the perfect illusion of reality and to hide, if not deny, the production process. The act of montage reveals how the piece was manufactured, where parts start and end, and where and how they have been connected. Thus, the text or painting has no clear-cut borders and the resulting openness provokes a feeling of brokenness. Viewers and readers are not only confronted with elements within the piece of art but must at the same time expand their horizons. The artists chose to cite external sources to build a connection between their work and the outside world. One can get the impression that these cited pieces were ripped out of their context and then misplaced in the text or painting. But this deliberate and emphasized displacement is more than just an artifice. It is used out of a certain aesthetic attitude towards the sensory overload and multiperspectivety that seem to have challenged artists and writers at the beginning of the 20th century. John Dos Passos certainly faced that challenge and he chose text montage as one of the appropriate techniques to express his concerns. He himself worded his intentions as follows: “I started a rapportage on New York … The narrative must stand up off the page. Fragmentation. Contrast. Montage. The result was Manhattan Transfer“(Hurm, 1991, p. 31).

The first noticeable thing about Manhattan Transfer is the seemingly shuffled passages which make the whole novel appear as a collaged text. In addition to that, one can find bits and pieces from newspaper articles, advertisements, songs, letters, notes, verse lines and entries from encyclopedias. Furthemore, Dos Passos incorporates passages that are made up of “stream of consciousness”. Like Georges Braque finding, for example, a newspaper article, which fits into his collage, Dos Passos allows Dutch Robertson to trip over a newspaper:

He walked into the chilly park and sat down on a bench. There was hoarfrost on the asphalt. He picked up a torn piece of pink evening newspaper. $ 500,000 HOLDUP. Bank Messenger Robbed in Wall Street Rush Hour. [… Dutch felt his heart pounding as he read the column. (Dos Passos, 2000 [1925], p. 286)

This newspaper excerpt, found by chance, fits exactly Dutch`s life situation, because Dos Passos did not randomly select textual fragments but custom-made them according to their function. The incorporation of specific newspapers articles reveals something about the thoughts and behavior of the character reading it, but at the same time, it serves as a method of characterizing Manhattan as a city. This is a technique developed by artists such as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque during Synthetic Cubism. The integration of so-called “objets trouvés” also included newspaper articles, that were supposed to connect the work with absent parts of reality.

Another interesting fact is that the novel contains strikingly many passages from songs. One of the most interesting uses can be found in the chapter ‘Rejoicing City That Dwelt Carelessly’ Fair. Anna has the love song “Somebody loves me, I wonder who…” stuck in her head and it keeps reoccurring throughout the whole passage but varies it a little bit each time (Dos Passos, p. 250). While the song is clearly embedded the first time by the sentence “The tune is all through her body […],” one finds the remaining snippets floating freely and almost detached from the events. This explicit repetition functions as a rhythmic element and gives structure. Like the Cubists repeated geometric shapes and other elements, Dos Passos uses the song over and over again to interrupt the plot and then let it unfold again. The song snippets can be even be compared to repetitive brush strokes on a canvas, which give structure and add a new layer with every repetition.

In addition to the pieces taken from newspapers and songs, DosPassos often incorporates streams of consciousness into the novel as well. These complex and amorphous trains of thought which are made up of feelings of resentment, memories, reflections and overlapping subjective perceptions are an integral part of the novel. Dos Passos provides the reader with a multitude of impressions which are given unfiltered through the eyes of the characters. They are almost like snapshots which show all actions taking place at a given moment, but also reveal the characters` perceptive impressions and personal feelings which are subjective but still typical for those living an urban lifestyle. Thus, the sensory overflow and overstimulation, which disturb and disorder the character´s thoughts, are shown as symptomatic for city life in general. If Ellen paces up and down her apartment, trying to escape from a hailstorm of thoughts, the reader understands that this is not a unique trait of the character Ellen, but a phenomenon from which most big city people must suffer. Taken the large amount of perspectives and real-world situations which are strung together and intertwined with each other, Manhattan Transfer composes an enormous text collage which was manufactured in a cubist manner.

Geometric Elements

Cubist representation is contrasted with naturalistic representation in the novel. Manhattan is described naturalistically in terms of topography, the layout of the city, the architecture and spatial conditions, but it is presented in a cubist style. Not only the stories of individual characters are interrupted, fragmented and scattered over the entire novel, but also Manhattan itself. Descriptive fragments of the city appear again and again and draw a kaleidoscopic picture of Manhattan. The image of Manhattan in the novel appears to be just like the multi-faceted cubist paintings and Prof. Gerd Hurm concludes: “The visual arts proved highly influential, for Manhattan Transfer presents a multifaceted cubist city” (Hurm, 1991, p. 214). Dos Passos creates a panorama of Manhattan that he shatters and reassembles in a cubist manner. By dissolving existing straightforward plots, Dos Passos has the opportunity shift his focus on zoom in on desired point. Just as cubism allows all variants of representation, by moving “around to the object,” Dos Passos shows Manhattan from all sides and changes perspective frequently.

Cubists initially designed charts before working on their pieces of art, which at first glance appeared to be a random conglomeration of different bits and pieces. They collected geometric shapes, scraps and snippets and then tried different arrangements until the individual pieces formed one unit. One must assume that Dos Passos also designed a chart ahead, given the emphasis he put on the fragmentary nature of the city. Just like the Cubists, he uses geometric shapes to give the novel structure. This geometry is not only visible through the formal analysis of the novel, but it also reflects in the content. Repetition of geometric shapes and elements is a typically cubist techniques to balance a painting. Hurm summarizes the connection between repetition in Manhattan Transfer and Cubism as follows:

The Cubist fictional image of Manhattan, like the real city, contains symmetrical relations and rational, geometrical forms. The city’s rectangular layout set down in 1811, its numbering of streets, the city equidistance between Blocky and the continuity of built up space along canyon-like streets is captured in the elaborate Symmetries and repetitions in the novel’s form. (Hurm, 1991, p. 234)

The form of “round” seems to be a geometric form that is particularly emphasized in Manhattan Transfer and that also represents an important component of cubist paintings. Dos Passos repeats circular forms and schemes to connote to the reader that all processes are a cycle, which, according to Manhattan Transf


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