Welcome to Francis Academic Press

Frontiers in Art Research, 2022, 4(9); doi: 10.25236/FAR.2022.040905.

On the Cosmopolitan Ideals in Let the Great World Spin


Yu Xun

Corresponding Author:
Yu Xun

School of Foreign Languages, Shanghai University, Shanghai, China


In his novel Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann sets the main story in the New York City during the 1970s, using the image of a tightrope walker treading between the World Trade Center towers as the primary thread to relate the interconnected stories of people with different identities and intertwining experiences. This paper holds that McCann seeks to connect different groups to emphasize the importance of communication with the “other”, write about moral justice to convey his humanistic concern, and outline a blueprint of the cosmopolitan community in the context of global crises. In the end, McCann tries to break out of the constraints of the historical context and conveys positive emotions of universal significance with his cosmopolitan ideals embedded in literary imagination. 


Colum McCann; Let the Great World Spin; cosmopolitanism

Cite This Paper

Yu Xun. On the Cosmopolitan Ideals in Let the Great World Spin. Frontiers in Art Research (2022) Vol. 4, Issue 9: 25-31. https://doi.org/10.25236/FAR.2022.040905.


[1] Yang, Jincai. “On the Thematic Features of Twenty-First-Century American Fictions.” Journal of Shenzhen University (Humanities & Social Sciences). 31.02(2014):6-12.

[2] Flannery, Eoin. Colum McCann and the Aesthetics of Redemption. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2011.

[3] Carroll, Hamilton. “‘Anticipating the fall’: Art, memory, and historical reclamation in Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin.” 9/11: Topics in Contemporary North American Literature (2016): 147-66.

[4] Dan, Hansong. “Two Narrative Dimensions in ‘9/11’ Novels: Falling Man and Let the Great World Spin.”Contemporary Foreign Literature 02 (2011): 66-73.

[5] Zen, Gui’e, and Wang Fengyun. “The Shaping of Community in Let the Great World Spin.” Contemporary Foreign Literature 42.02 (2021): 53-59.

[6] Wang, Ning. “Cosmopolitanism: A Keyword in Critical Theory.” Foreign Literature 01(2014):96-105+159.

[7] McCann, Colum. Let the Great World Spin. New York: The Random House Publishing Group, 2009.

[8] Feng, Lixia. “A Spatial Interpretation of McCann’s Let the Great World Spin”. Journal of Hunan University of Science & Technology(Social Science Edition) 20.03(2017):48-53.

[9] Zhang, Hairong. “John Corrigan: Another Tightrope Walker—On the intertextual characters in Let the Great World Spin”. New Perspectives on World Literature 06(2017):38-47.

[10] Beck, Ulrich. “Redefining the sociological project: The cosmopolitan challenge.” Sociology 46.1 (2012): 7-12.

[11] Beck, Ulrich. Society and Politics in the Second Modern Age: The Cosmopolitan Europe. Trans. Zhang Guofeng. Shanghai: East China Normal University Press, 2008.

[12] McCann C, Lennon J. ‘The First Man to Whistle’: Two Interviews with Colum McCann[J]. This Side of Brightness: Essays on the Fiction of Colum McCann. Ed. Eoin Flannery and Susan Cahill. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2012: 149-76.

[13] Appian, Kwame Anthony. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. Trans. Miao Huajian. Beijing: Central Compilation & Translation Press, 2012.

[14] Brock, Gillian. Global Justice: A Cosmopolitan Account.Trans. Wang Bo, Ding Yi. Chongqing: Chongqing Publishing Group, 2014. 

[15] Delanty, Gerard. Community (Second Edition). Routledge, 2010. 

[16] Wang, Wei. “Viewing and Being Viewed: Historical Spectacles in Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin.” Contemporary Foreign Literature 36.03(2015):46-54.

[17] Alkhayer, Alsahira. Belonging in the Age of Global Crisis: The Fiction of Colum McCann. 2018. 

[18] Yin, Qiping. “Community: A Keyword in Critical Theory.” Foreign Literature 02(2016):70-79.