Street Wise

Pat Rogers

  • Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
    Hamish Hamilton, 218 pp, £8.95, September 1985, ISBN 0 241 11664 3
  • Paradise Postponed by John Mortimer
    Viking, 374 pp, £9.95, September 1985, ISBN 0 670 80094 5
  • High Ground by John McGahern
    Faber, 156 pp, £8.95, September 1985, ISBN 0 571 13681 8

It takes no time to see that Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor is a book wrought with extreme cunning. A slower discovery arrives, that this virtuosity on the surface goes with imaginative density and profundity of inquiry. Inquiry into many related topics: the vagrancy of youth, the corruption of obsession, the permanence of evil. Allusive throughout, the text (though it contains a character named Eliot) does not utter the passage from The Waste Land which seems to underlie its themes, the one on the ‘unreal city’ at dawn:

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