Modernism In James Thomson's The City Of Dreadful Night

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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. Unlike the pre-modern individual inclined to appear within a state of unconsciousness, in order for modern subject to avoid evolutionary decline, they would need to remain…show more content…
The isolation of which Thomson’s speaker experiences, derives from the speaker’s inability to exercise “the normal human experience of sleep” (Mills p. 125). As simplistic as it may appear on the surface, Mills emphasised that insomnia is not merely sleep deprivation on its own, but a platform upon which the speaker is able to interact with his inner most thoughts and desires. Mills (p. 125) adopted the definition of insomnia as “wakefulness without intentionality”. With the pre-modern subject being rooted within the “unconscious levels of the mind” within a pre-modern society, the speaker’s insomnia allows the pre-modern subject a form of awareness. Mills (p. 125) emphasised that “thought and consciousness are equated with

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