The Tower of London: Tales of Victorian London by Natsume Soseki (Translated from the Japanese and introduced by Damian Flanagan) - review by Paul Binding

Paul Binding

Cabbies and Caves

The Tower of London: Tales of Victorian London


Peter Owen 240pp £14.95

Those who have been captivated by the Mitchell & Kenyon films of British urban life in the early twentieth century, and who feel that, through them, they have moved among their forebears for the first time ever and seen them as ordinary, independent people, will surely react similarly to the essays and vignettes collected in The Tower of London. The camera here is a Japanese teacher and scholar of English literature who, aged thirty-three and by courtesy of his own government, arrived in London in October 1900 and stayed there, quartered in various mostly dismal lodging houses, till December 1902. Though he spent much of his time studying, he also liked to walk about the streets and explore neighbourhoods, to catch people off guard and observe their mores with an objective if not wholly innocent eye (he was learned in English culture and his own personality was complex). So

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