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Author Topic: Great London Novels
Wyatt Earp
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I said, Mary Barton.

[ 07-01-2003, 13:31: Message edited by: Wyatt Earp ]

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Gangster Octopus
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<edit - yah barstard, Phil. Ruin a good joke, why don't you just.>

[ 07-01-2003, 13:33: Message edited by: Gangster Octopus ]

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Wyatt Earp
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Is any of Lawrence's stuff actually set in Nottingham? I've a feeling it isn't.

If not, does Sillitoe count or is he not great enough?

[ 07-01-2003, 13:35: Message edited by: Wyatt Earp ]

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Wyatt Earp
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Academic novels are set in cities, in a way. That widens the field a little: Lucky Jim and so on. Bradbury's stuff, like Lodge's, tends to have a thinly disguised, but clearly identifiable, location; are we allowing that?
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The Quiet Man
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Not if we're only including "great" novels. Which Bradbury and Lodge ain't written.
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Oolon Colluphid LLB
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What do you mean by "great" though? The likes of Gaskell and Bennett are great novelists in my opinion, but they often get overlooked.
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The Quiet Man
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I mean significantly better than Bradbury and Lodge.
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Selwyn Rice
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'Fowler's End' by Gerald Kersh is a very funny novel set in London (albeit in a mythical, grotty suburb).
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Wyatt Earp
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Da Void's request was for "works of serious literature" rather than "great novels". Lodge is maybe too airporty to count (though he thinks he's densely allusive and literary, you can tell), but Bradbury's in there. And actually, if there's a better satirical novel than The History Man written in England since the War, it's not leaping to mind (or I haven't read it).
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The Quiet Man
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What A Carve-Up!.

Coe's caricatures satirise genuine and important people, whereas Bradbury's genuine-seeming characters satirise unimportant caricatures.

There must be many others. The History Man is funny, but it's not a very important book.

I stand corrected on the serious novels though.

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Muzz Lightyear
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"The Four Hundred" (can't recall the author) was set in London.
Good story .

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Spock na Escada
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"Is any of Lawrence's stuff actually set in Nottingham". The Rainbow and Women in Love, were I think supposed to be set in Eastwood where Lawrence grew up - a small town, not a city. Similarly Anna of the Five Towns, and all of Arnold Bennet - Stoke, it's five towns not a city. I can think of plenty of other great novels (perhaps works of great literature wasa little too restricting) set in English towns, but none set in the big cities - Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Newcastle etc. Lodge I'd allow, by the way.
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Tubby Isaacs
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Steveee,

A good place to start might be Ed Glinert's Guide to Literary London.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0140279040/ukbasedtimeshari/202-1664493-3203069

This book turns up all the time in remainder books (Victoria Street, possibly)for about £5 so don't buy it off Amazon.

It's primarily a walking book and doesn't comment on the quality of books. But it has an excellent index to browse and come up with some more London-connected novels. The author is very learned, with lots of modern stuff as well as classics like Dickens.

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Mat Pereira
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Oh yeah, 'Bleak House' is fantastic for giving you a picture of what life was like in and around Chancery Lane. 'Our Mutual Friend' covers South-east London and 'Little Dorrit' is set in and around the Marshelsea Prison that used to be just opposite where Borough Tube Station is now.

'Our Mutual Friend' is my favourite though. It's great.

I read 'Absolute Beginners' when I was seventeen and really liked it. If that's any help.

'Nights At The Circus' by Angela Carter is set half in London and half in St. Petersburg. That's pretty good too.

A while ago Books etc gave away a collection of short stories and snippets from novels that were all set in London. It was really good. I'm still looking for some of the stuff that was in that collection. 'Hangover Square' by Patrick Hamilton that was one of them.

"However I'm having problems thinking of any works of 'serious literature' set in other English cities (deliberately not including Dublin or Edinburgh)".

Er, would Brighton Rock count?

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Not me
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Angela Carter's a good call - Several Perceptions seems to be a pretty accurate depiction of 60s London outside "swinging" circles (not that I was there). Graham Greene, too: The End of the Affair gives you a good wartime Clapham and Golders Green (I think).

He's not written a "great" novel yet, but pretty much all Will Self's stuff gives you a good picture of (mostly late 80s/early 90s) London. Lots of it's set in North London, but he's also got a thing about the Westway and seems to know the city's roads inside out. That's something which put me off his stuff before I moved here, actually - I had no picture of the layout of London and I resented the implication that I should give a Shit. But I really enjoy most of it now, he's super-readable.

I read the MacInnes London trilogy when I was 17, too - had bit of a mod thing going on for a few months. I really enjoyed them. Absolute Beginners was set around Pimlico, wasn't it?

*****SUPER SPOILER*********
Come to think of it, doesn't City of Spades' Johnny Fortune die as the result of his heroin addiction in the end? That must have been quite a new thing for 50s UK literature to look at?

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