Laura Stiers is a third year English major studying abroad in London this quarter. In Dispatches from London, she blogs about books, curious Anglicisms, and literary culture in one of Europe’s most literary cities.
We flew in over the Thames as the sun was rising. The effect was pretty much the opposite of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness: a thin, shining thread of water wound across the landscape under us, widening into an immense sea of brightness. Unearthly.
I’m in London because of books. In one way or another, it all comes back to books. I’m here as an English major, studying King Arthur and Virginia Woolf (among others). Books took up at least half of my suitcase when packing for my three-month stay here. As for why I wanted to come here in the first place . . . most of the books I read as a child were set in London. It always seemed like a magical place: chimney sweeps, mysterious fogs, books of magic, gateways to other worlds. Modern London, I suppose, can’t help but dim in comparison.
But the history is real. The stories are real. Even without chimney sweeps (they don’t burn coal here anymore, which did away with most of the fog, too) or books of magic (depending on your definition of magic), it should still be an adventure.
And there is a bus that says it goes to “World’s End.” So, we’ll see how that works out. You never know.