City of the Mind Summary
Penelope Lively

Everything you need to understand or teach City of the Mind by Penelope Lively.

  • City of the Mind Summary & Study Guide

City of the Mind Summary

A major focus of this novel is London itself. Lively foregrounds and personifies the city, describing it as "throb[bing]" and "pulsing" and portraying it as being fueled by the energies of the myriad individuals who inhabit it. This impression of the city's richness and texturedness is in part effected by the frequent cataloguing of the sights, sounds, and smells that bombard Matthew on his daily traversings of the city: the various ethnic restaurants, the cacophony of languages, the pastiche of architectural styles from different eras.

One of Lively's purposes in foregrounding London is to demonstrate the weblike quality of the city, that is, the way its inhabitants' lives are inextricably and imperceptibly interconnected. Lively achieves this effect by frequently sliding from a close-up view of Matthew's activities to an aerial perspective, from which we can observe "the city's mysterious intestinal life" and detect the mazelike pattern Matthew...

(read more from the Short Guide)

Study Pack

The City of the Mind Study Pack contains:

City of the Mind Short Guide

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