Postscript: The End of the Line?
Amy Levy’s aesthetic of the omnibus was both an instrument of modernity with which to rethink the position of the fin-de-siècle woman poet in an urban milieu, and a tool with which to create a new aesthetic theory based upon the cinematic character of urban transport. Alice Meynell found in the passenger’s seat the kind of intellectual and aesthetic detachment she believed the critic needed to produce a critical study of urban life. She transformed her journeys into a visual study of the conditions of life and produced an innovative social and political analysis of the ethics and aesthetics of living in modernity. In addition, Meynell not only theorised an aesthetics of flux and movement, which she expressed in terms of impressionism, but also used her own position as a passenger to argue that in a train, omnibus, or tram the world becomes a spectacle. In this sense Meynell used her own privileged position as a passenger-critic to problematise and question the figure of the passenger and his or her voyeuristic disengagement with the outside world. Graham R. Tomson used the aesthetics of the passenger to investigate and examine the relationship established at the fin de siècle between cities and bodies. For Tomson, like Levy, mass transport instigated an examination of urban life by reclaiming the space of the city for women, but unlike Levy, Tomson argued that the advancement of mass transport transformed London into a sublime experience.
KeywordsUrban Life Urban Transport Underground Train Aesthetic Theory Sublime Experience
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