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Imagined London: A Tour of the World's Greatest Fictional City

Anna Quindlen

Top 10 Best Quotes

“London has the trick of making its past, its long indelible past, always a part of its present. And for that reason it will always have meaning for the future, because of all it can teach about disaster, survival, and redemption. It is all there in the streets. It is all there in the books.”

“Since the age of five I had been one of those people who was an indefatigable reader, more inclined to go off by myself with a book than do any of the dozens of things that children usually do to amuse themselves. I never aged out of it.”

“London opens to you like a novel itself. [...] It is divided into chapters, the chapters into scenes, the scenes into sentences; it opens to you like a series of rooms, door, passsage, door. Mayfair to Piccadilly to Soho to the Strand.”

“Raging crime, class warfare, invasive immigrants, light morals, public misbehavior. Always we convince ourselves that the parade of unwelcome and despised is a new phenomenon, which is why the phrase "the good old days" has passed from cliché to self-parody.”

“Behind every door in London there are stories, behind every one ghosts. The greatest writers in the history of the written word have given them substance, given them life. And so we readers walk, and dream, and imagine, in the city where imagination found its great home.”

“It is the glory of London that it is always ending and beginning anew, and that a visitor, with a good eye and indefatigable feet, will find in her travels all the Londons she has ever met in the pages of books, one atop the other, like the strata of the Earth.”

“I read and reread and recommended and rarely rejected, became one of those readers who will read trashy stories as long as they're not too terrible--well, even perhaps the truly terrible ones--and will reread something she's already read, even if it's something like a detective novel, when you'd suspect that knowing who had really killed the countess would materially detract from the experience. (It doesn't, and besides, I often can't remember who the murderer was in the first place.)”

“You can tell a really wonderful quote by the fact that it's attributed to a whole raft of wits.”

“Perhaps it was that I wanted to see what I had learned, what I had read, what I had imagined, that I would never be able to see the city of London without seeing it through the overarching scrim of every description of it I had read before. When I turn the corner into a small, quiet, leafy square, am I really seeing it fresh, or am I both looking and remembering? [...] This is both the beauty and excitement of London, and its cross to bear, too. There is a tendency for visitors to turn the place into a theme park, the Disney World of social class, innate dignity, crooked streets, and grand houses, with a cavalcade of monarchs as varied and cartoony as Mickey Mouse, Snow White, and, at least in the opinion of various Briths broadhseets, Goofy. They come, not to see what London is, or even what it was, but to confirm a kind of picture-postcard view of both, all red telephone kiosks and fog-wreathed alleyways.”

“In England I am always madam; I arrived too late to ever be a miss. In New York I have only been madamed once, by the doorman at the Carlyle Hotel.”

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Book Keywords:

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