[[quoteright:250:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dhalgren_front_7.jpg]]

->''to wound the autumnal city.''

''Dhalgren'' is a strange NewWaveScienceFiction / LitFic novel by Creator/SamuelRDelany. It takes place in the fictional city of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellona_(goddess) Bellona]], which is in the exact geographic center of the United States. A strange catastrophe has befallen it, and so radio/television/phone signals can neither enter nor leave. It's become a haven for the dregs and free spirits of society.

The narrator, a nameless man of strange ethnicity, hitches a ride to the city, and the plot begins. He explores, learning about its inhabitants and culture, staying for months. Eventually a massive fire forces him to leave.

This description doesn't really do the book justice. [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment It's strange.]] (It was Delany's first ''serious'' attempt at blending SF with LitFic.)

WikiMagic go!
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!!This novel contains examples of:
* AlienSky: Sort of. Bellona is perpetually overcast and covered in smoke, with a few exceptions.
* AnachronicOrder
* ArcWords: "You can't make that discord on a harmonica." "Someday I'll die." "Artichokes."
* AuthorAppeal: Samuel R Delany is very fond of characters with "ugly" hands and bitten nails. Kidd has such hands.
* BadMoonRising
* BiTheWay: The Kid.
* BookEnds: The ending is the beginning of the opening sentence fragment. Also, when the Kid arrives in the city, he is given his orchid by someone who is leaving. When he leaves, he gives his orchid to a new arrival.
* CampGay: Bunny.
* ChaosArchitecture: Bellona makes ''no'' sense. One day the river is just visible from Tak's roof, the next it's not, the ''next'' it's only a block over.
* CoolSword: The Orchid weapons, a "cage of blades that fits around the hand".
* CozyCatastrophe: Many of the people who didn't evacuate Bellona are perfectly content to stay there, though they could leave at any time if they wanted to.
* ChekhovsGun: One of the elevators in the Richardsons' apartment building doesn't work, leaving an empty shaft that Bobby almost steps into at one point. [[spoiler: While finishing the move, June accidentally backs him into the empty shaft instead of the real elevator. At least, it was probably an accident.]]
* {{Doorstopper}}: About 800 pages depending on the edition.
* GenreBusting
* {{Hologram}}: The Scorpion gangs are so-called because they use holographic projectors to appear as giant animals.
* IdentityAmnesia: Protagonist remembers who he is, but has forgotten his own name.
* IndyPloy: The Emboriky Run.
* LampshadeHanging: Any explanation given for the strange things that happen will usually just lampshade the fact that it doesn't really explain anything. The most obvious example is probably when Kid finds the crate of [[RedEyesTakeWarning red eye caps]].
* ManlyGay: Tak Loufer
* MeaningfulName: The stages of Kidd's progression in Bellona are mirrored by significant people who are also newcomers; when he has just arrived, the poet [[PunnyName Ernest Newboy]] is visiting Bellona. After Kidd [[TookALevelInBadass toughens up]] and [[spoiler: gets his gay on]], the astronaut [[PunnyName Captain Kamp]] is visiting. This may, or indeed may not, indicate that Kidd is a FisherKing and Bellona his FisherKingdom.
* {{Metafiction}}: Kidd finds a notebook which contains sections of ''Dhalgren''.
** Becomes even more metafictional as editors notes start appearing near the end making us question further what really happened here.
* MindScrew: "Holy crap, the sun is so big that it's taking up the entire sky! Wait, it stopped. Never mind!"
** The entire book, really. in every way. Special mention goes to the opening sequence and the woman the narrator meets, has sex with, and then watches as she turns into a tree.
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: Jack The Ripper, Nightmare, Thirteen, Dragon Lady, Glass, Copperhead, Spider... And they're Kidd's friends later on in the book.
* NoEnding
* OnlyKnownByTheirNickname: Most of the scorpions are known only by their nicknames. The main character himself is known only as 'Kid,' since he can't remember his actual name.
* PaintingTheMedium: The editor's notes, typos, and Kidd's journal all create something not unlike this trope.
* RedEyesTakeWarning: It certainly unnerves Kidd a lot, although their significance is never explained.
* ScaryBlackMan: Subverted by George Harrison who's treated like this but is actually the nicest person in the book... and is also possibly a rapist. Depending on one's point of view.
* StepfordSmiler: There's an entire family that acts as though the world of the city hasn't ended. Special mention goes to the mother, who everyone else in the family takes special care not to remind what's really going on.
* SuddenNameChange: The protagonist starts out nameless, acquires the nickname 'The Kid,' then becomes 'Kidd,' before arbitrarily deciding he prefers 'Kid.' [[spoiler: His name is Michael. Maybe.]]
* TalkativeLoon: Some of the narration.
* ThreeWaySex: The Kid, Lanya, and Denny eventually form a triad.
* TimeTravel: Possibly. Kid "loses" time, from the perspective of the other characters. It could be because of his screwy memory, or it could be that something is yanking him through time so that he'll be in the right place at the right time. Or it could be [[spoiler: that as a fictional character, he doesn't exist when his actions aren't written down.]]
* TitleDrop: Dhalgren is both a name in Kidd's notebook and something he says in a vision-like image.
* UnreliableNarrator: Well, the fact that the narrator can't remember his own name is a major warning sign right from the start. And then Bellona is strange enough that even he's unsure at times whether he's hallucinating or not. Plus, he 'loses' time, anywhere from seconds to a few days at a go, his only knowledge of what took place during that time being the word of other characters.
* TheUnreveal: All over the place. What happened to Bellona? What is the Kid's full name? What does Dhalgren mean? What are the optical chains actually? Even things that initially look like answers (such as the factory full of optical chains and red eye-caps) just raise more questions.
* WorldSundering
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->''Waiting here, away from the terrifying weaponry, out of the halls of vapor and light, beyond holland and into the hills, I have come to''
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