Friday, 6 January 2012

Literature Love // Limehouse Blues

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Throughout the literary canon, suburban writers have been captivated with notions of London as a ferocious all-consuming beast, a sordid infusion of poverty, oppression, misdemeanor and deathly, industrial fumes. Everyone is well aware of Dickens' fascination with the plight of the afflicted Working Class, imagining funereal occurrences in squalid alleyways to a nervous bourgious readership. Likewise, in his poem 'London', William Blake discovers nothing but "marks of weakness, marks of woe" in the faces of those that reside by the "chartered Thames".

London's underworld is also the topic of this week's lit love as we've been flicking through Thomas' Burke's collection of poetry, 'The Song Book of Quong Lee of Limehouse'.

Lola received this book as a beautiful Christmas gift from her parents, a wonderful 1st edition from the 1920s complete with a stunning hand-drawn illustration in black ink, depicting a post-war Limehouse and an amazing orange chevron cover (which fits right in here at Twee Towers!). So beaut.

For those that don't know, after the Great War the Limehouse district in London became heavily populated with Chinese immigrants and has since been associated with myths and stories of mysterious murders in riverside alleys, sleazy opium dens and tales of innocent English girls lost in a dangerous abyss controlled by an evil Chinese settlement.

Even before the war, Dickens implied that Limehouse was the "lowest statum of the international hierachy in the streets around the London dock". Although, it's probably more likely that these tales were the result of conjecture, fuelled and exaggerated by the fear of the unfamiliar as London's cultural diversity began to develop.

Despite the bleak subject matter and brash realism, Burke's tone is satirical, fanciful and endearing as he romanticises stories of lust and murder among the lower-classes. We won't spoil it too much, but it's definitely worth a read!

As we mentioned the other day, our Literature Love feature is now bi-weekly to allow us to relax and enjoy reading again rather than rushing to finish every Friday, so it'll be back in two weeks time folks! In the meantime, next Friday we'll be revealing an exciting new way of presenting a very silent, recipe ;)

'Till next time...

Much love,
L&R xx

1 comment:

Lauren said...

I hadn't heard of this book. Sounds interesting. I actually had a classmate in school named Quong!

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