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As an English major, starting off this blog with commentary on writing is somewhere that feels comfortable to me. This blog is born out of an assignment but I’m hoping to create something that’s functional (for myself) and entertaining (for others) as I write about by time in London.

But for now, on to literature.

It’s always interesting to me to read about how an author chooses to describe a certain place. It’s especially interesting when that place is London, and I have just moved to London and know little about what it’s actually like to live here aside from what I’ve seen in films and read in books.

Zadie Smith’s approach to setting in the White Teeth extract brought about a dark tone, and through here imagery of ‘nasty urban streets’ gave me a sense of what the tone of the book would be. Though I’ve never read White Teeth, I have read many essays by Smith and find that she brings a very visceral experience to her writing. This extract is so exception.

The Hamilton extracts almost felt like lists of all the streets and neighborhoods of London. This was particularly exciting for me, as it was like a game where I got to see how many places I recognized. I feel that this method of setting a scene is extremely useful and can be interactive for a reader. Sometimes I find myself researching real places from fictional stories to immerse myself in the world of the character.

Then of course, there is Charles Dickens, master of description and arguably the master of London. Oliver Twist depicts a London familiar to the common man during the nineteenth century. In this extract, Dickens is very thorough in his descriptions of the place: writing about light, and produce, and butchers, and laborers, and everything one can see in just a second but never take the time to really look. Dickens makes the reader truly appreciate where they are.

What better than to wrap up my thoughts on the reading than to show a picture of my trip to the Charles Dickens’ Museum. This is a photo of an original manuscript in his hand!

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