Text and the City

October 31, 2008 § Leave a comment


I’ll be in London this weekend talking at The Battle of Ideas conference about literature and the city, along with novelist Julian Gough and Professor Swapan Chakravorty.

“When a man is tired of London he is tired of life; and when a man is tired of life he moves to Paris to write a book about it. But other cities are keen to emphasise their literary heritage: Edinburgh was delighted to be named the UNESCO City of Literature in 2004, even if Ian Rankin’s Gothic murders and Irvine Welsh’s tales of squalor are not great tourist adverts. In 2008 Melbourne became the second CoL – to the great disappointment of the other contenders, including several newcomers in emerging economies, keen to stake their particular claims on the literary map. Should we celebrate the richness and variety of different cities, or does ‘the city’ remain a blank space in which to explore universal concerns?

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