The nineteenth century saw great changes in all fields of life, the rapid development of civilisation being accompanied by radical changes in contemporary thinking as well. The revolutionary results of technological development shattered traditional norms and beliefs that so far had been regarded as guiding principles, which pushed part of the population into utter pessimism and intellectual helplessness, while urged others to enjoy life to the utmost or search for aesthetic pleasures. As it was great cities that underwent the most conspicuous transformation, the beauties and the dark side of urban existence soon came to be one of the central issues in contemporary literature and art. In the book the works of four great English writers of the time are analysed, with the focus on their representation of the city. Through the concrete image of London and Paris around the turn of the century as well as through the metaphorical role of the city as a concept, we can get differing views about the age, as seen by H.G.Wells, George Gissing, Joseph Conrad and Henry James. Through the analyses we gradually arrive at the complex image of civilisation at the end of the nineteenth century, which is neither black nor white. It can be found beautiful or seen as a threat, but you cannot remain indifferent to it - perhaps it is its contradictions that make it fascinating.