Title: London Stories
Writer: Various (edited by Jerry White)
Publishing House: Everyman’s Pocket Classics
Date of Publication: May 6th 2014 (first published March 27th 2013)
Rating: 5 stars
‘’Only at sunset did I leave the house. There was an unwonted sweetness in the air; the long vistas of newly lit lamps made a golden glow under the dusking flush of the sky. With no purpose but to rest and breathe, I wandered for half an hour, and found myself at length where Great Portland street opens into Marylebone Road. Over the way, in the shadow of Trinity Church, was an old bookshop, well known to me: the gas-jet shining upon the stall with its rows of volumes drew me across.’’
London. Its literary tradition is unparalleled. Its landmarks stand witnesses to the lives of the Londoners, people from all nations and traditions calling London ‘’home’’, contributing to the unique vibe of the capital of England. In this beautiful volume, 26 writers guide us to the history of the city. From the era of the plague and the Great Fire to the 19th century, the two World Wars and our times, the past and the present of London pass before our eyes.
‘’Full moonlight drenched the city and searched it; there was not a niche left to stand in. The effect was remorseless: London looked like the moon’s capital – shallow, cratered, extinct. It was late, but not yet midnight; now the buses had stopped the polished roads and streets in this region sent for minutes together a ghostly unbroken reflection up. The soaring new flats and the crouching old shops and houses looked equally brittle under the moon, which blazed in windows that looked its way.’’
John Evelyn narrates the disaster of the Great Fire in a dramatic text. William Thackeray chronicles an execution, while Henry Mayhew guides to the life of a working girl and Charles Dickens witnesses a shady encounter taking place by the Thames. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Christmas story takes us to 221B Baker Street where Sherlock and John take part in a wild goose chase and Frederick Treves narrates the life of Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man. Graham Greene and Mollie Panter- Downes write about love affairs in the era of World War II and Elizabeth Bowen’s story is a metaphor for a mythical place and passion. In a text that makes London come alive in front of our eyes, Doris Lessing writes about the importance of multiculturalism using the Underground and its stations as her vehicle.
26 stops in the life of a glorious city (like it or not…)
‘’It is what I enjoy about London, its variety, its populations from everywhere in the world, its transitoriness – for sometimes London can give you the same feeling as when you stand to watch cloud shadows chase across a plain – exactly what they so hate?’’