Writing London: A Reading Reaction
There is something about London that unleashes the poets and the writers in the hearts of individuals who care to look at the city with fresh eyes. London is many things to many people. Yet, as Wolfreys writes, London defies definition and could not be confined within a box of categories that people might put it in. To an ordinary student, Wolfreys seems to be offering no concrete definition by which London may be understood better. What he offers instead are insights that appear to border on the abstract. His introduction is an apt one for the confusion that is London.
He traced the different aspects in which London manifests itself—from poetry, art, space, architecture and philosophy. What struck me most is the way that Wolfreys (5) characterized the writings about London as reading from ruins. Based on such reading, London and the emotions, experiences and insights it inspires are but temporal. Yet people still try hard to recapture their vision of what London is. The author is talking about the temporariness of everything and how writing manages to capture the fleeting and always in flux character of London.
Experiencing London in its varied aspects and the ideas it inspires is also a journey into the inner aspect of a person’s being. I imagined myself looking at London and experiencing the varied emotions and ideas that emerge from the writers and thinkers that Wolfreys cited. Perhaps, writers see the city not only for its buildings, for its problems and its woes. Rather, they see it for its heart and soul; for what the city represents. In the end, writers recreate their vision of London and usher the people into their own perspective.
Wolfreys, Julian. Writing London: Materiality, Memory, Spectrality. Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.