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Narrative Geographies / Moving Literature: the Car as a ‘Mobile Chronotope’ in Don DeLillo’s ‘Cosmopolis’

Moving Literature: the Car as a ‘Mobile Chronotope’ in Don DeLillo’s ‘Cosmopolis’

The car has become a material referent for a new way of living in, going through, experiencing and even representing the city. Starting from the emerging field of inter-disciplinary studies on mobility (Cresswell, Sheller, Urry, Thrift, Featherstone), in this article I combine the sociological and geographical perspectives on urbanity with the “geocritical approach” (Westphal Prieto) on literary urban texts. With the renowned novel Cosmopolis by DeLillo as a case study, this paper aims to grasp the dynamics that shape a new representation of the city around the transiting spaces of automobility. It also suggests a further advancement of “geocriticism” by focusing on the central topic of spatial practices. 299 DeLillo’s novel will be taken as an example of how the evolution of automobility as a major everyday practice has influenced urban narratives. Not only the car as a “mobile chronotope” has modified the architecture of the plot, replacing the traditional one of the road; but even the protagonist Eric Packer, as a “postmodern urban flâneur”, represents the new “literary type” (Eco) of the car driver. Therefore the article argues to demonstrate how a geocritical reading of spatial practices can be extremely profitable for the development of new spatial knowings both in literary theory and in cultural geography.



automobility, car, DeLillo, geocriticism; chronotope, literary geography, mobility, spatial practices