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The London of Dickens

发表于 7-17-2014 18:41:23 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
Elizabeth Lowry, The London of Dickens; In 19th century London, ‘bone-pickers’ fought dogs for discarded bones, ‘grubbers’ scavenged cobblestones for bits of nail and children eked out livings clearing roads of dung. Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2014
(book review on Judith Flanders, The Victorian City; Everyday life in Dickens' London. St Martin’s, 2014)

(a) "In the space of a century [19th century], London's population rose from one million to nearly seven million. No other city in Europe rivaled it for size or enterprise. The traffic—human, animal and industrial—on its granite and macadamized roads let out an unremitting roar * * * And above the whole would hang a dense cloud of smog that varied disturbingly in color from brown to green; Londoners, with affectionate disgust, called the most polluted days 'pea-soupers.'"
(i) macadam
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macadam(pioneered by Scottish engineer John Loudon McAdam [1756 – 1836; Scottish] around 1820)
(ii) pea soup fog
(section 1 London: The result was commonly known as a London particular or London fog, which then, in a reversal of the idiom, became the name for a thick pea and ham soup)

The meaning of this quotation is explained in the quotation of the next item.
(iii) pea soup
(section 1.2 Britain and Ireland: A soup of this sort made with yellow split-peas is called a London particular)

(b) "London's streets, thronged with hawkers, tinkers, sweeps, newsboys, prostitutes, pickpockets, dustmen and shoppers, gave the capital its distinctive flavor of frenzied activity. * * * In 'Bleak House' (1853), Dickens made an impassioned appeal against the city's indifference toward its most vulnerable in the figure of Jo, one of a host of destitute children who eke out a living by clearing the roads of dung and refuse. With pointed irony, Dickens has Jo sheltering on the steps of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts."
(i) The usual use of “tinker” is as a verb, but here it is a noun.

tinker (n): "a usually itinerant mender of household utensils"
(ii) sweep (n): “(mainly British) See chimney sweep"
(iii) dustman (n): “British:  a collector of trash or garbage”
(iv) Charles Dickens (1812-1970)
(v) Bleak House
(section 4 Bleak House, Kent; section 5 Bleak House, St Albans)

Besides the two sections, read only the introduction, whose sketch betrays Jo is a mere subplot (because neither Jo nor the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts is mentioned in this Wiki page.
(vi) For “Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts,” see USPG

(c) “grubbers, who scavenged among the cobblestones for bits of nail * * * the nails and other scraps of old iron went to manufacturers. In Victorian London, almost everything was recyclable. Again, among the very poorest, a poignant trade was carried out by the ‘leaving shops,’ unlicensed pawnbrokers who offered money for goods considered too beggarly to be accepted elsewhere: a single knife or fork, or a baking dish.”
(i) grub (v)
(ii) There is no much to glean from the Web about “leaving shop.”

John S Farmer, Slang and its analogues past and present; A dictionary, historical and comparative of the heterodox speech of all classes of society for more than three hundred years. With synonyms in English, French, German, Italian, etc (1890). London: Harrison & Sons, 1890, volume 4, at page 175
www.forgottenbooks.com/readbook_ ... t_v4_1000659739/175
("LEAVING-SHOP: "An unlicensed pawn-brokery; [also known as] a DOLLY-SHOP (q.-v.)")

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 楼主| 发表于 7-17-2014 18:42:21 | 显示全部楼层

(d) “An 1865 cartoon, ‘Scene in Regent Street,’ shows a clergyman thrusting a moralizing tract at a fashionably dressed woman. She replies, ‘Bless me, Sir . . . I am not a social evil, I'm only waiting for a bus.’”
(i) Regent Street
(named after the Prince Regent (later George IV) [because his father George III had dementia])
(ii) tract = pamphlet

(e) “Some things may have changed, but it comes as no surprise to learn that even in Dickens's day the city's taxis [there was no automobile then]—known as ‘growlers’ for the bad temper of their drivers—were notorious for their scruffy state. * * * ‘the check-string, used to tell the driver to stop, never worked.’ * * * He [Dickens] recalled that he once saw ‘a hat box, a portmanteau, and a carpet-bag’ strewn along Holborn and Fleet Street, and on asking if anyone was injured, was given the reassuring reply, ‘O'ny the fare [ie, passenger], sir.’"
(i)  check-string (n): "a string by which the occupant of a carriage may attract the driver's notice"
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
(A) portmanteau (n; French): "a large suitcase"
(B) Portmanteau (luggage)

(f) “Jacob's Island, as Dickens wrote in ‘Oliver Twist’ (1838), was a warren of ‘crazy wooden galleries’ hanging over a stagnant ditch filled with the effluent from the nearby tanneries.”
(i) Jacob's Island
(was immortalised by Charles Dickens's novel Oliver Twist [published in 1838; protagonist was an orphan boy named Oliver Twist])
(ii) The following explains why it is called an island (because ditches were dug around the neighborhood). “Jacob”?  Not explained.

Jacon's Island
("As an ‘island,’ it was man-made.  Local maps place its date of creation between 1660 and 1680, the first 20 years of the reign of Charles II, when the tidal ditches surrounding and intersecting the island were dug")

View a map in the Web page, with a red rectangular boundary.

(g) “Waste was pumped unchecked into the Thames: As Dickens chided in ‘Little Dorrit’ (1857), ‘Through the heart of the town a deadly sewer ebbed and flowed, instead of a fine, fresh river.’

Little Dorrit
, where Dorrit is the last name of a character.

(h) “Green spaces were gradually made available to the masses in the form of the great parks, such as Victoria and Finsbury, which are a feature of the modern London landscape. Piccadilly Circus, a plaza that is now a byword for traffic jams and breakneck driving, was originally created to give Regent Street a more countrified feel. * * * Nelson's Column was a design decision arrived at after considerable wrangling: Earlier suggestions, mercifully rejected, had included a 90-foot trident. Predictably, the tall, thin colonnade with its famous statue on top was immediately derided as a disaster (columns were supposed to support buildings, not statues, the reasoning went) and even Nelson's two-cornered hat was criticized as uncharacteristic. Today, Nelson's hat is his most recognizable feature.”
(i) Finsbury
(section 1 Etymology)
(ii) Piccadilly Circus

Rad paragraph 1 only.
(iii) circus (n; Middle English, from Latin [noun masculine: circus], circle, circus):
“British :  a usually circular area at an intersection of streets”
(iv) Compare
(A) Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson
with (B) tricorne

(I) "’The Victorian City’ is the perfect companion to Dickens's work. It is not necessary to be familiar with his novels in order to savor this portrait of the 19th-century metropolis in all its odoriferous particularity—the cress-sellers and the costermongers, the brothels and gin palaces, the scaffolding and slaughterhouses.”
(i) odoriferous (adj): “yielding an odor: ODOROUS”
(ii) garden cress
(Lepidium sativum)
(iii) costermonger (n; from COSTARD [a kind of apple] + MONGER): "(British, rare) a person who sells fruit, vegetables, etc, from a barrow"
www.collinsdictionary.com/dictio ... owCookiePolicy=true
(iv) gin palace
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