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'"Against the grand project": Iain Sinclair's local London'

'"Against the grand project": Iain Sinclair's local London'

Weston, Daniel (2015) '"Against the grand project": Iain Sinclair's local London'. Contemporary Literature, 56 (2). pp. 255-279. ISSN 0010-7484 (Print), 1548-9949 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.3368/cl.56.2.255)

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Abstract

The dust-jackets of Iain Sinclair’s books are laden with endorsements describing him as the preeminent metropolitan writer of London. Yet those same texts often re-inscribe specifically local and regional practices. A walk around the perimeter of the borough of Hackney, for example, is described, in terms invoking ancient parochial rituals, as “beating the bounds.” This article, focusing on one of London’s most prominent literary spokesmen as a regional or local writer, challenges the conventional binary relationship between metropolis and region. Sinclair’s work does not function under the aegis of this model but overlays competing mappings of the same space on top of one another. Drawing on the idea that London is only knowable as a series of villages, his texts focalize the specificity of particular locales and emphasize first-hand experience of their textures, chiefly through the practices of walking and interviewing locals. For Sinclair, the implications of this regionalism are to be found in defending the “obscurity” of locally-used places, and guarding against their being “overwhelmed by great public schemes.” I draw on examples from a number of Sinclair’s texts that rail against government-endorsed grand projects – the Docklands redevelopment, the Millennium Dome, the London Olympics – to assess their reassertion of regional concerns in the face of centralised (and commercially minded) planning. I argue that these texts oppose the view from central London that adjacent regions are blank spaces ripe for top-down rejuvenation, offering instead a more complex and detailed mapping of their status as regional places in their own right.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Iain Sinclair, literature of London, localism, regionalism
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities
Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities > Department of Literature, Language & Theatre
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 01 May 2019 14:54
Selected for GREAT 2016: GREAT b
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: GREAT 3
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/14676

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