The City of Dreadful Night (Paperback)
The Classic Poem of Urban Alienation by James Thomson
The City of Dreadful Night was first published as a serial in the National Reformer in 1874 and then in book form in 1880. Its author, James Thomson, was known at the time primarily for his essays, literary piece work, and associa- tions with freethinkers and radicals -- and never found the larger readership he worked hard to gain. Poverty, insomnia, and alcoholism lead to his early death at forty-seven. Now regarded as a cult classic and a refutation of Victorian exceptionalism, The City of Dreadful Night is a journey through the vast new urban landscape created by industrialization. In social isolation and economic exploitation the soul despairs, while grim Darwinism has replaced God and charlatans hawk an impossible afterlife. Our edition features illustrations by artist Shannon Cleere on the cur- rent housing and mental health crisis in Seattle, as well as an afterword by Tacoma poet Robert Lashley. Nearly 150 years later, the city, both as imagined by Thomson and as lived in our late- capitalism experience, remains the same: starkly isolating and cruelly unjust for the poor and unwell.