London in space and time
This chapter explores the treatment of London by two authors whose work explores the concept and power of place and the nature of urban space. Peter Ackroyd, whose work embodies, according to Onega (1997: 208) ‘[a] yearning for mythical closure’ where London is ‘a mystic centre of power’—spiritual, transhistorical and cultural—is considered alongside Will Self, who explores the city’s psychogeography as primarily a political, economic and cultural artefact. The chapter draws on original interviews with Ackroyd and Self and explores how personal delineations of the urban environment are shaped by space and language. It goes on to consider how authors’ and students’ personal understandings of space and place can be used as pedagogical and theoretical lenses to ‘read’ the city in the 16–19 literature classroom.