Soft City

I have been meaning to re-read Jonathan Raban’s classic study of the literary and psychological characteristics of city life, Soft City, as I remember enjoying its exploration of how individuals relate to the city in the construction of their private identity when it was first published in 1975.   Raban had left teaching literature at East Anglia and settled for a life as a freelance writer in Islington and Earl’s Court, exploring the characteristics of the city with a mixture of Barthian fascination and nineteenth-century horror.   It’s anti-modernist, anti-Corbusian and anti-Mumford, regarding the city as more an irrational psychological construct than a rational physical construction.

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