By Peter Ackroyd
Along with his attribute enthusiasm and erudition, Peter Ackroyd follows his acclaimed London: A Biography with an encouraged investigate the center and the historical past of the English mind's eye. to inform the tale of its evolution, Ackroyd levels throughout literature and portray, philosophy and technology, structure and song, from Anglo-Saxon occasions to the twentieth-century. contemplating what's such a lot English approximately artists as different as Chaucer, William Hogarth, Benjamin Britten and Viriginia Woolf, Ackroyd identifies a bunch of occasionally contradictory parts: pragmatism and whimsy, blood and gore, a keenness for the earlier, a take pleasure in eccentricity, and masses extra. an excellent, enticing and infrequently superb narrative, Albion reveals the manifold nature of English genius.
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Together with his attribute enthusiasm and erudition, Peter Ackroyd follows his acclaimed London: A Biography with an encouraged inspect the guts and the background of the English mind's eye. to inform the tale of its evolution, Ackroyd levels throughout literature and portray, philosophy and technology, structure and tune, from Anglo-Saxon instances to the twentieth-century.
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Additional info for Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination
Waxworks, 228. 4 And the collection, from its very beginning, capitalized on popular tastes and on popular demand for public display of the criminal and his or her punishment. Finally, in its physical organization and structure, its advertising and marketing, Madame Tussaud’s represents the trend towards the democratization of the historical museum during the ﬁrst half of the nineteenth century: it was in principle open to all and allowed viewing that was free of direct monitoring and control. 5 Last but not least, Madame Tussaud’s capitalized on and deﬁned the contours of interest in the French Revolution as the grand modern historical event and, more broadly, history, associating the Revolution with disorder and crime while taming it and transforming it into an English event, a constitutive component of English popular culture.
Indeed the longevity of the appeal of both ensued from the mixture of attraction, awe, and repulsion which the ‘dangerous’ and horrible generated. Both these slices of the past also served as urban histories for their times, representing urban experiences still recognizable in material traces which survived waves of demolition and improvement in the modern city, especially in London, the deﬁnitive mega-city and site of forms of modernity which were both local and connected to a world empire and global processes, especially from the 1870s.
Thus waxworks presenting historical ﬁgures, rapidly gaining popularity after 1800, were a vestige of ancien re´gime aristocratic consumption and the plebeian culture of the fairground, but in their new garb, availability to urban spectators, and exploitation of modern forms of advertising, as well as in their relation to politics, they formed the prototype of the new commercial culture of history. In similar manner the generic forms of historical ﬁction of the 1830s, 1840s, and 1860s, especially historical crime novels and novels depicting historical monuments, drew on an older, eighteenth-century urban lore of crime; but they capitalized on the modernization of technologies of printing, engraving, 46 Cited in Jonathan Rose, The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (New Haven, 47 Elizabeth Bryson, Look Back in Wonder (Dundee, 1966), 80–1.
Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination by Peter Ackroyd