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In "London: The Autobiography" the life of the capital is told, for the first time, by those who made it and saw it at first hand. From Roman times to the 21st century, Londoners and visitors to the city have recounted the extraordinary events, everyday life and character of this unique and influential city - from politics, culture, sport, religion, and reportage.
This book brings to vivid life the human trial of the capital including invasions by the Vikings, the brutal execution of Sir Thomas More, the sight of a whale swimming up the Thames and the rebuilding of St Paul's by Sir Christopher Wren, as well as the everyday life of the city.
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Packed with personality and character, this book is a must-buy for anyone interested in London as well as a wonderful story of the city at the heart of the nation. Convert currency. Add to Basket. Book Description Constable, London, U. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. First Edition. Seller Inventory More information about this seller Contact this seller.
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Book Description Constable, London, Thick, heavy 8vo. The compulsion to achieve a pictorial equivalent of the city, a picture that would rival reality and keep pace with growth, broke its maker. Exhausted, Horwood died at the age of 45, four years after the publication of his masterpiece. Ackroyd's vision is resolutely retrospective. We, his contempo raries, are the pale residue of a dying fire.
There is nothing to be done, beyond listing and cataloguing, breaking open dead files. It is an echoic city, filled with shadows. Unpersuaded by the "fantasies of latter-day psychogeographers", Ackroyd acknowledges London as a crucible of myth; King Lud gazes out on the mystagogue EO Gordon's sacred mounds. From vaporous Celtic origins, druids and shamen, his narrative drifts in leisurely paragraphs across a heritage recovered from dusty files. Above everything, there is this infernal acoustic babble, an unmediated chaos of competing church bells, street vendors, "roaring boy" apprentices, from which he sifts meaning.
It is as if, in treating London as a glorious fiction, he is remembering, rather than uncovering and disclosing. Passages of social discourse are spliced by reveries, by post-traumatic dreams, recalling and reviving things that made London the only place in which the author would choose to live. Looking back, summarising, quoting from earlier witnesses - from Orwell and Virginia Woolf, De Quincey and the anonymous author of the medieval poem London Lickpenny , which becomes the title of his own first pamphlet of verse - Ackroyd reveals what so much research, so many years of wandering the city, have granted him.
His book becomes a lecture, a performance. He digresses, offers swift rhapsodies on food, drink, clubs, weather, graffiti: monologues of pleasure, sensual fugues. There are whispers of a secret self, previously unconfessed, unrevealed in any of the novels. Playing Boswell to London's Johnson, Ackroyd is liberated; by oblique strokes, he can reactivate the dangerous fantasies of his published fiction.
An impresario of smoky effects, Ackroyd pulls back the curtain to show us the treasures in his personal cabinet of curiosities: the great and the good, the infamous, the freakish, the criminal.
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Editing an impossibly plural landscape, he decides, like his mentor Dickens, to service a cult of celebrity. This is London as a picaresque exhibition, a freak show of the notable and the notorious; pearly incidents of sentiment set against the encroaching darkness. His judgments are characteristically generous: "greatness" is bestowed as lightly as the trinkets in Harold Wilson's honours list.