Representations of Urban Space in Edith Wharton and Anzia Yezierska
Preface - 11
Preface There is an island surrounded by rivers, and about it the tide scurries fast and deep. It is a beautiful island, long, narrow, magnificently populated, and with such a wealth of life and interest as no island in the whole world before has ever possessed.1 Perhaps it was my very own experience as a modern immigrant working on the lofty floors of a banking institution just off Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan that got me started on my theme. I cannot exactly recall how I finally settled on this particular topic, but I do remember that walking to work every morning through city streets provided me with images, impressions, thoughts, ideas and questions that could not be quenched or suppressed once I entered the gleaming lobby and rode the elevator up to the 40th floor to address a by no means stimulating banking job. On sunny days, the view up there was fabulous. Pretending that I had to run an errand, I would often circle the entire floor in order to steal a peek at the city’s views in all directions. Admiring Manhattan island from high above was awe-inspiring every sin- gle time; looking down and into the distance from my banking tower let me be a part of the city while being an isolated and pri- vileged spectator nevertheless. Aside from me, the only other person who was probably as taken by the city and its views was Sonja, the old German-Jewish receptionist who – fleeing the Holocaust with...
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