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.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • He has 'raised his country’s international influence to unprecedented heights, while at the same time jailing hundr… ,
    • 'It is one of those nice linguistic ironies that English should have attempted to make sex respectable by clothing… ,
    • 'He was to my mind the father of the idea that journalism – yes, even journalism – can have a moral dimension to it… ,
    • RT : Feeling old, as exhumes a piece I wrote 37 years ago. But a joy to see Kathy O’S there too. Here’s why:… ,
    • 'Enough of his character remains just out of reach for Barnes to relish the challenge of imagining him.' Patrick M… ,
    • RT : I did a thing about the new Penguin Book Of Oulipo for this month’s Literary Review: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Moore’s work has been so influential that the former ministers who provided him with much of his information now r… ,