Google full text of our books:


New York Nocturne:
The City After Dark in Literature, Painting, and Photography, 1850-1950
William Chapman Sharpe

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [in PDF format]


"Night has long been the frontier of the urban world, a place where crime is an omnipresent danger, where sexual violence or fulfillment hides just around a darkened corner, and where loneliness triumphs over human connectedness. For a society that has grown up taking electricity for granted, New York Nocturne is illuminating. . . If electricity has transformed, if not completely solved the mysteries of the night, Sharpe skillfully interprets how artists have approached the meanings of darkness and, in a Melvillean touch, of light itself."--D. Schuyler, Choice

"In this gorgeous, erudite book, [Sharpe] examines the myriad ways that writers, painters, and photographers have represented New York nightlife, beginning in the mid-19th century, when works by Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, and Edgar Allan Poe dramatized the moral perils of the artificially lit city. . . . Sharpe, whose own affection for the city is charmingly apparent here, insists throughout that artists and writers haven't simply reacted to the changes in urban existence; rather, they have 'helped turn the unscouted terrain of the urban night into a legible part of contemporary life.'"--Barbara Spindel, Barnes and

"My favorite book of the year. New York Nocturne is a chronicle in words, photographs and paintings of New York City at night. . . . Although this is a book about New York City, it's also a book about artists, writers and photographers who were drawn to and inspired by the evolution of the illumination of the city and all that it brought about. The social and cultural changes that light brought about are examined here and strung together magnificently by author William Chapman Sharpe. . . . The art and photography are brilliantly reproduced--the color plates are especially handled with great care and one can see that the author has taken pain-staking pride in his research and efforts."--Norman Maine, Soho Journal

"A beautiful volume that would sit proudly on the coffee table of any city dweller and city lover. William Chapman Sharpe details the way in which the city evolved after the Civil War into a world metropolis of leisure, politics, the arts, and commerce."--The Village Voice

"Treat yourself to an elegantly written, beautifully illustrated, copiously researched sojourn into New York City's night. With William Chapman Sharpe as your guide, you will get a tantalizing new perspective on the city as reflected in art, literature, and history. . . . Set within historical contexts without being mired in historiography, this book balances in-depth analyses of specific works with a broad discussion of patterns over time. It will enlighten any urbanist. . . . Sharpe's study provides a provocative historical perspective on creativity in and about the city. A book of breadth, depth, and grace, it must be savored slowly to fully appreciate 'the relation between the human, the urban, and the dark.'"--Joanne Reitano, History News Network

"The challenge and accomplishment of the book is the way it cuts a swathe across New York's modernisms. . . . Sharpe covers a remarkable range of territory here."--Andrea L. Volpe, Reviews in American History

"[A] monograph as electrifying as its theme that illuminates from within the making of New York City, a reference work in absence of which, invaluable aspects in New York culture history would be left in the dark."--Adriana Neagu, ABC Journal

"For anyone interested in the art and writing of modern New York . . . Sharpe provides a rich, encompassing, and informed story."--William B. Scott, American Studies


"New York Nocturne is a wonderfully rich plum pudding of a book on the evolution of the modern urban environment and how it has been perceived, especially in New York. Teeming with little-known history and keen critical insight, this study illuminates how artists and writers made imaginative capital of the changing New York nightscape. Their vision helped construct the image of New York as we still see it today: a city that never sleeps, a brilliantly lit stage set that comes alive in dramatic, even thrilling ways after dark."--Morris Dickstein, CUNY Graduate Center

"New York Nocturne is a tour de force of scholarship and an instant classic. I cannot think of another book that so convincingly shows the connections between technological innovation, spatial transformation, and cultural change."--Steven Hoelscher, University of Texas, Austin

"New York Nocturne raises important questions concerning the history of cities, urban modernism and modernity, and the relationship of technology to the urban experience. The breadth is ambitious and the text is studded with lovely analyses of individual works."--Rebecca Zurier, University of Michigan

Return to Book Description

File created: 4/21/2017

Questions and comments to:
Princeton University Press

New Book E-mails
New In Print
PUP Blog
Princeton APPS
Sample Chapters
Princeton Legacy Library
Exam/Desk Copy
Recent Awards
Princeton Shorts
Freshman Reading
PUP Europe
About Us
Contact Us
PUP Home

Bookmark and Share