Richard Boston

A City Built On Bones

Necropolis: London and its Dead

By

Simon & Schuster 304pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

It was Petronius (my dictionary of quotations informs me) who used ‘the majority’ as a euphemism for the dead. Perhaps, then, President Nixon was making an uncharacteristic joke when he spoke of the silent majority that supported him. Be that as it may, however enormous the number of people who live in London, they are outnumbered by those who have died there. T S Eliot in The Waste Land cleverly merges the city’s living and dead populations by borrowing from Dante’s Inferno:

A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,

I had not thought death had undone so many.


Follow Literary Review on Twitter