Monday, 7 April 2014

City of vast and restless melancholy

Portland Place, London, 1906

Lawrence did not greatly love London. It appealed to his imagination, but in a sinister way. To him it was the city of vast and restless melancholy.

And though there was nothing of the sentimental in his composition, he despised the facile trick of fancy which attributes to cities, heroically, the joys and griefs of the unheroic individuals composing them; London did nevertheless impress him painfully as an environment peculiarly favourable to the intensification of sorrow.

Whenever he went to London it seemed to him to be the home of a race sad, hurried, and preoccupied; the streets were filled with people who had not a moment to spare, and whose thoughts were turned inward upon their own anxious solicitudes, people who must inevitably die before they had begun to live, and to whom the possession of their souls in contemplation would always be an impossibility.
Arnold Bennett – Whom God Hath Joined (1906)

Over a century later I find I’m no fan of London either. For me there is something weird about the place. I prefer small towns, open spaces, hills, valleys and high moorland where the call of a curlew speaks to that poetic spark lurking in all our souls.

Maybe you have to be a Londoner.


Anonymous said...

Depends when and where you go, I think.

Demetrius said...

It was certainly different from Hanley and Keele.

A K Haart said...

David - and if you are passably familiar with the place I imagine.

Demetrius - too different perhaps?