Saturday, April 19, 2008

"To run my fingers through the town's soft pelt," or, A Week of Blogging about London, Part IV

From "England Not My England" (1929), by Cyril Connolly
10th October 1928

By some seasonable miracle I seem to be falling in love with London and recapturing the same exaltation that I attributed merely to youth last year. To feel this jungle come alive all around one in the evening, the same October mists, fires, lights, wet streets, blown leaves, to plunge into its many zones, not knowing what one will discover, and to return with a growing sense of confidence and power as a new street or a new district falls beneath one's rule, is to feel a true explorer, or rather is to combine the intimacy of a wooer with the excitement of an adventurer; to run my fingers through the town's soft pelt, to caress the lax pulsating city as rashly, as apprehensively, as a Greek might approach an Amazon, or a small spry leopard, male of some great cat.
But as always with Connolly, the wheel inexorably turns, and mere weeks later . . .
November 1928

One cannot really love London. It is disappointing in every way. A foggy, dead-alive city, like a dying ant-heap. London was created for rich young men to shop in, dine in, ride in, get married in, go to theatres in, and die in as respected householders. It is a city for the unmarried upper class, not for the poor. Every writer and artist must feel a sense of inferiority in London unless he is (like Browning or Henry James) a romantic snob--or else fits into the Reynolds-Johnson tradition of Fleet Street, Garrick, good burgundy, and golf.


  1. It may be you saw this already, indeed it might be buried in riches below! But just in case not...

  2. I hadn't seen that article yet, but there are definitely a couple of good ideas in there. The George in particular sounds worth a visit.

    My London visits tend to be about half literary London and about half my friends' London, which makes for a good vacation.