Read Chatterton by Peter Ackroyd Free Online
Book Title: Chatterton|
The author of the book: Peter Ackroyd
Date of issue: January 1st 1988
ISBN 13: 9780802100412
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 492 KB
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Reader ratings: 4.9
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Every so often I like to have a little Peter Ackroyd love-in. I'll get my Peter Ackroyd mug out, stare wistfully at my Peter Ackroyd wall paper and sit around in my Peter Ackroyd T-shirt. Ok, maybe there is no such thing - I have no idea if such merchandise actually exists but if not, well then Peter, you are missing a trick.
I'm a fan of his work, both fiction and non fiction and the man knows his stuff. His knowledge of very specific periods and areas of 18th and 19th Century British History is exceptional and his ability to resurrect, in an almost Lazarus-like way forgotten historical figures is, frankly, amazing.
I've read The Lambs of London, Hawksmoor, The House of Doctor Dee and The Trial of Elizabeth Cree aka Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem and while my love for them all was not equal there has been something to like in all of them at least. Chatterton sits somewhere between The Lambs of London and Dan Leno, with Hawksmoor getting the biggest thumbs up. (The House of Doctor Dee is at the bottom of the rankings for being just a bit too weird).
Chatterton tells the story of Thomas Chatterton 18th century Bristolian boy-poet who liked to flaunt his poetic prowess by forging earlier works, specifically those he attributed to made-up monk Thomas Rowley. Rather brilliantly Chatterton is less famous as a fraudulent poet and more famous for his accidental suicide while trying to self medicate with an arsenical/opiate kill or cure mix used to counteract against a virulent dose of the Clap.
This book is the Back to the Future Trilogy gone all 18th century on your asses. Ackroyd invites us inside his papery Delorian and takes us on a journey through time to visit four different aspects of Chatterton's history as perceived by various groups who are interested in him (patron and publisher, artist, poet and historian). The stories are cleverly woven and lines of Chatterton's poems run across the pages of each chapter like a shiny historic thread pulling the whole thing together.
Engaging and off-beat with a host of mad and maddening characters who gamble across the pages like medieval fools. Here Ackroyd demonstrates his ability to include the camp and the absurd, perhaps highlighting how absurb how much of British History really is when you take a good hard look at it. For further absurdist looks at British history then I would recommend you also take a look at the Discworld Series by Sir Terry Pratchett. I'm not sure how these two authors would feel about being mentioned in the same review but I bet they'd have a lot to talk about.
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Read information about the authorPeter Ackroyd CBE is an English novelist and biographer with a particular interest in the history and culture of London.
Peter Ackroyd's mother worked in the personnel department of an engineering firm, his father having left the family home when Ackroyd was a baby. He was reading newspapers by the age of 5 and, at 9, wrote a play about Guy Fawkes. Reputedly, he first realized he was gay at the age of 7.
Ackroyd was educated at St. Benedict's, Ealing and at Clare College, Cambridge, from which he graduated with a double first in English. In 1972, he was a Mellon Fellow at Yale University in the United States. The result of this fellowship was Ackroyd's Notes for a New Culture, written when he was only 22 and eventually published in 1976. The title, a playful echo of T. S. Eliot's Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1948), was an early indication of Ackroyd's penchant for creatively exploring and reexamining the works of other London-based writers.
Ackroyd's literary career began with poetry, including such works as London Lickpenny (1973) and The Diversions of Purley (1987). He later moved into fiction and has become an acclaimed author, winning the 1998 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for the biography Thomas More and being shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1987.
Ackroyd worked at The Spectator magazine between 1973 and 1977 and became joint managing editor in 1978. In 1982 he published The Great Fire of London, his first novel. This novel deals with one of Ackroyd's great heroes, Charles Dickens, and is a reworking of Little Dorrit. The novel set the stage for the long sequence of novels Ackroyd has produced since, all of which deal in some way with the complex interaction of time and space, and what Ackroyd calls "the spirit of place". It is also the first in a sequence of novels of London, through which he traces the changing, but curiously consistent nature of the city. Often this theme is explored through the city's artists, and especially its writers.
Ackroyd has always shown a great interest in the city of London, and one of his best known works, London: The Biography, is an extensive and thorough discussion of London through the ages.
His fascination with London literary and artistic figures is also displayed in the sequence of biographies he has produced of Ezra Pound (1980), T. S. Eliot (1984), Charles Dickens (1990), William Blake (1995), Thomas More (1998), Chaucer (2004), William Shakespeare (2005), and J. M. W. Turner. The city itself stands astride all these works, as it does in the fiction.
From 2003 to 2005, Ackroyd wrote a six-book non-fiction series (Voyages Through Time), intended for readers as young as eight. This was his first work for children. The critically acclaimed series is an extensive narrative of key periods in world history.
Early in his career, Ackroyd was nominated a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1984 and, as well as producing fiction, biography and other literary works, is also a regular radio and television broadcaster and book critic.
In the New Year's honours list of 2003, Ackroyd was awarded the CBE.
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