W hile the nineteenth-century found cities overwhelming, American Notes reveals a particular aggression toward American cities, emblems of an existence in movement, its liquid ity abject, absorbing, and morasslike. It was particularly sarcastic about the pretensions of Washington, the architectural city, to take hold of the actual form and existence of the city. Architecture has never been able to possess the city, because the latter resists the idea of being seen as a whole, and because architecture can never possess a city in its contin gency.1 However, in contrast to American Notes, the successor text Martin Chuzzlewit, almost dialectically, reveals an aggression toward, architecture, both English and American, in a resistance toward its dream of stabiliz ing the city. It almost seems to prefer the city as a psychotic space. Martin Chuzzlewit I read not as an English novel with some American moments, but as a text whose unconscious is formed by America, and I take these points from it: that if the discourse of nineteenth-century architecture is of control, Dickens wanted this control because of the fear of disappearsuice he had confronted in America; but that he hated it out of an iden tification with anti-architecture, and this split showed the abiding
challenge of American cities when Dickens returned to a confrontation with writing London, a city changing rapidly under the influence of new architecture.