The Noir City: Manhattan Transfer 1925


“Dusk gently smooths crispangled streets. Dark presses tight the steaming asphalt city, crushes the fretwork of windows and lettered signs and chimneys and watertanks and ventilators and fireescapes and moldings and patterns and corrugations and eyes and hands and neckties into blue chunks, into black enormous blocks. Under the rolling heavier heavier pressure windows blurt light. Night crushes bright milk out of arclights, squeezes the sullen blocks until they drip red, yellow, green into streets resounding with feet. All the asphalt oozes light. Light spurts from lettering on roofs, mills dizzily among wheels, stains rolling tons of sky.”

– John Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer (NY 1925)


2 thoughts on “The Noir City: Manhattan Transfer 1925”

  1. Tony, I just now discovered you had a new post up -usually I get notifications, but somehow I missed the one for this- anyway, I want you to know that I greatly revere Dos Passos, and have a full collection of his writings in a Library of America volume. As far as this stunning appraisal of “Manhattan Transfer” it is electrifying, and it envisions the metropolis in sensory terms unparalleled. You need not see the real thing in person when you have Das Passos.


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