Twice Round the Clock : Twenty Four Hours in Victorian LondonGeorge Augustus Sala Lee Jackson / Jul 18, 2019
Twice Round the Clock Twenty Four Hours in Victorian London Twice Round the Clock is the defining work of George Augustus Sala a tour of s London sights and sounds one chapter for each hour of the day published in Sala was a prolific journal
Twice Round the Clock is the defining work of George Augustus Sala 1828 1895 a tour of 1850s London sights and sounds one chapter for each hour of the day published in 1859 Sala was a prolific journalist, one of Dickens s prot g s at the magazine Household Words a colourful character, a bon viveur who seemed to spend much of his life on the cusp of bankruptcy Twice Round the Clock is the defining work of George Augustus Sala 1828 1895 a tour of 1850s London sights and sounds one chapter for each hour of the day published in 1859 Sala was a prolific journalist, one of Dickens s prot g s at the magazine Household Words a colourful character, a bon viveur who seemed to spend much of his life on the cusp of bankruptcy He was known for his drunken habits and quarrelsome manner It is not insignificant, perhaps, that much of his early writing provides graphic descriptions of different examples of the capital s pubs and gin palaces Twice Round the Clock itself is something of a masterpiece Written in over wrought, exaggerated prose, full of Classical and literary allusions rather rich, even by Victorian standards it remains fascinating reading for anyone who loves either the ebullient language and literature of the mid Victorian period or its social history Sala himself chose to pre empt his critics in the book s preface, damning his own work, with heavy irony, as flippant, pretentious, superficial and yet arrogant of knowledge verbose without being eloquent crabbed without being quaint redundant without being copious in illustration full of paradoxes not extenuated by originality and of jocular expressions not relieved by humour In fact, Sala s writing reveals not one iota of self doubt, except submerged in his patent desire to impress and entertain the reader a task in which he succeeds.There are many, many gems herein for the social historian To take some random examples, here we have Sala on the food enjoyed by Victorian gentlemen when dining out See the pyramids of dishes arrive the steaming succession of red hot chops, with their brown, frizzling caudal appendages sobbing hot tears of passionate fat See the serene kidneys unsubdued, though grilled, smiling though cooked, weltering proudly in their noble gravy, like warriors who have fallen upon the field of honour See the hot yellow lava of the Welsh rabbit stream over and engulf the timid toast Sniff the fragrant vapour of the corpulent sausage Mark how the russet leathern coated baked potato at first defies the knife, then gracefully cedes, and through a lengthened gash yields its farinaceous effervescence to the influence of butter and catsup The only refreshments present open to even a suspicion of effeminacy are the poached eggs, glistening like suns in a firmament of willow pattern plate and those too, I am willing to believe, are only taken by country gentlemen hard pressed by hunger, just to stay their stomachs, while the important chops and kidneys are being prepared Or here he describes, marvellously, the typical young foppish man about town of the period Swells I use the term advisedly, for none other can so minutely characterise them Long, stern, solemn, languid, with drooping tawny moustaches, with faultlessly made habiliments, with irreproachable white neckcloths, with eyes half closed, with pendant arms, with feet enclosed in mirror like patent boots, the swells saunter listlessly through the ball room with a quiet consciousness that all these dazzling frivolities are provided for their special gratification which indeed they are I should note that I have toyed with Sala s text in two small ways I hope he forgives me First, I have moved the author s lengthy dedication preface to the end of the book where so many prefaces belong second, I have added a brief explanatory sub title, lest Twice Round the Clock seem too mysterious to browsing readers In exculpation for these changes, I have retained the forty six illustrations by William M Connel which graced the original.
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