Category: Peter Ackroyd

book of books – The Plato Papers


I have read a few books by Peter AckroydLondon: A biography, Hawksmoor and The Clerkenwell Tales – and all share this sort of mystical knowledge of London that you find in just a small handful of writers including Iain Sinclair and Michael Moorcock. It makes reading the books a challenge because time is warped, locations are layered and sometimes the obvious can be inverted to make you think.

You know what type of book you are dealing with based on the cover image, which I am sure is upside down because it looks like tunnel lighting in a tube station

Plot summary
The location is London but the date is 1,000 years plus into the future and our era, known as the age of Mouldwarp, is the stuff of history lessons given by the town’s orator Plato. In a series of orations Plato starts to have doubts that his view of the past is actually right and after questioning his soul is given an opportunity to travel into a cave and find the remnants of the Mouldwarp people living under the city. His discovery lands him in trouble with the authorities and after clearing his name he decides to embrace self imposed exile after getting a glimpse of the truth that his forefathers created Mouldwarp.

Is it well written?
It is not always obvious what is going on and there is a certain level of knowledge of London’s geography and past that is needed to get a feel for the place but it is possible to follow the main story of Plato and his discovery of the truth. It is written by someone who knows they are supremely clever, know their subject inside out and can make jokes, that sometimes feel they are being made at the expense of the reader. Coming to the end of the book I felt, just as London has its different layers so did this book and I missed out on some of them completely.

Should it be read?
For those who love history there is a warning here about interpreting the past and most of Plato’s mistakes are made because he has a fragment on the past and then builds assumptions around it that seem logical but of course are far of the mark. It makes you think about how future generations will view our time and what assumptions they will make about us.

Version read: Vintage paperback

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book of books – The Plato Papers


I have read a few books by Peter AckroydLondon: A biography, Hawksmoor and The Clerkenwell Tales – and all share this sort of mystical knowledge of London that you find in just a small handful of writers including Iain Sinclair and Michael Moorcock. It makes reading the books a challenge because time is warped, locations are layered and sometimes the obvious can be inverted to make you think.

You know what type of book you are dealing with based on the cover image, which I am sure is upside down because it looks like tunnel lighting in a tube station

Plot summary
The location is London but the date is 1,000 years plus into the future and our era, known as the age of Mouldwarp, is the stuff of history lessons given by the town’s orator Plato. In a series of orations Plato starts to have doubts that his view of the past is actually right and after questioning his soul is given an opportunity to travel into a cave and find the remnants of the Mouldwarp people living under the city. His discovery lands him in trouble with the authorities and after clearing his name he decides to embrace self imposed exile after getting a glimpse of the truth that his forefathers created Mouldwarp.

Is it well written?
It is not always obvious what is going on and there is a certain level of knowledge of London’s geography and past that is needed to get a feel for the place but it is possible to follow the main story of Plato and his discovery of the truth. It is written by someone who knows they are supremely clever, know their subject inside out and can make jokes, that sometimes feel they are being made at the expense of the reader. Coming to the end of the book I felt, just as London has its different layers so did this book and I missed out on some of them completely.

Should it be read?
For those who love history there is a warning here about interpreting the past and most of Plato’s mistakes are made because he has a fragment on the past and then builds assumptions around it that seem logical but of course are far of the mark. It makes you think about how future generations will view our time and what assumptions they will make about us.

Version read: Vintage paperback

book of books – The Plato Papers


I have read a few books by Peter AckroydLondon: A biography, Hawksmoor and The Clerkenwell Tales – and all share this sort of mystical knowledge of London that you find in just a small handful of writers including Iain Sinclair and Michael Moorcock. It makes reading the books a challenge because time is warped, locations are layered and sometimes the obvious can be inverted to make you think.

You know what type of book you are dealing with based on the cover image, which I am sure is upside down because it looks like tunnel lighting in a tube station

Plot summary
The location is London but the date is 1,000 years plus into the future and our era, known as the age of Mouldwarp, is the stuff of history lessons given by the town’s orator Plato. In a series of orations Plato starts to have doubts that his view of the past is actually right and after questioning his soul is given an opportunity to travel into a cave and find the remnants of the Mouldwarp people living under the city. His discovery lands him in trouble with the authorities and after clearing his name he decides to embrace self imposed exile after getting a glimpse of the truth that his forefathers created Mouldwarp.

Is it well written?
It is not always obvious what is going on and there is a certain level of knowledge of London’s geography and past that is needed to get a feel for the place but it is possible to follow the main story of Plato and his discovery of the truth. It is written by someone who knows they are supremely clever, know their subject inside out and can make jokes, that sometimes feel they are being made at the expense of the reader. Coming to the end of the book I felt, just as London has its different layers so did this book and I missed out on some of them completely.

Should it be read?
For those who love history there is a warning here about interpreting the past and most of Plato’s mistakes are made because he has a fragment on the past and then builds assumptions around it that seem logical but of course are far of the mark. It makes you think about how future generations will view our time and what assumptions they will make about us.

Version read: Vintage paperback

Lunchtime read: The Plato Papers – post V

After having returned from the past and explained the mysteries of Mouldwarp Plato faces his trial for misleading the young and lying but fights his corner in a bid to keep a hold on his sanity and his position

Highlights from pages 110 – 139

* Plato starts arguing with the guardians of the city and as he argues he is feeling his way round what he has discovered and he frustrates those trying to pin him down to some sort of admission of guilt

* Plato’s old friends despair about his slip into trouble and wonder if he has gone mad, a likely outcome after Plato starts talking about communicating with his soul, but hope that he will come through unscathed

* The guardians ask the citizens of London to make a judgement and they clear Plato of the charges but in response he demands that he been thrown into exile and as he is leaving hints that he believes that they are the founding fathers of Mouldwarp, a point completely lost on his old friend

Review will come in the next couple of days…

Lunchtime read: The Plato Papers – post V

After having returned from the past and explained the mysteries of Mouldwarp Plato faces his trial for misleading the young and lying but fights his corner in a bid to keep a hold on his sanity and his position

Highlights from pages 110 – 139

* Plato starts arguing with the guardians of the city and as he argues he is feeling his way round what he has discovered and he frustrates those trying to pin him down to some sort of admission of guilt

* Plato’s old friends despair about his slip into trouble and wonder if he has gone mad, a likely outcome after Plato starts talking about communicating with his soul, but hope that he will come through unscathed

* The guardians ask the citizens of London to make a judgement and they clear Plato of the charges but in response he demands that he been thrown into exile and as he is leaving hints that he believes that they are the founding fathers of Mouldwarp, a point completely lost on his old friend

Review will come in the next couple of days…

Lunchtime read: The Plato Papers – post IV

Things change dramatically for Plato but the outcome is not too good landing him in trouble with the authorities.

Highlights from pages 86 – 110

* Plato discovers that the inhabitants of Mouldwarp still exist in a cave under the City with the roof of the cave covered in stars, the limits of their perception, and he discovers that a lot of what he assumed is wrong

* He comes back and starts talking about what he discovered wearing a watch and rolling a dice for example but that soon lands him in trouble and he is put under trial for spreading fear and deceit

* In his trial Plato argues that he has not called on anyone to reject the principles of society but has discovered the joy of stumbling on individualism but his defence appears to be rejected and he is accused of going against “the way” and disturbing people, particularly children

Final instalment lunchtime tomorrow…

Lunchtime read: The Plato Papers – post IV

Things change dramatically for Plato but the outcome is not too good landing him in trouble with the authorities.

Highlights from pages 86 – 110

* Plato discovers that the inhabitants of Mouldwarp still exist in a cave under the City with the roof of the cave covered in stars, the limits of their perception, and he discovers that a lot of what he assumed is wrong

* He comes back and starts talking about what he discovered wearing a watch and rolling a dice for example but that soon lands him in trouble and he is put under trial for spreading fear and deceit

* In his trial Plato argues that he has not called on anyone to reject the principles of society but has discovered the joy of stumbling on individualism but his defence appears to be rejected and he is accused of going against “the way” and disturbing people, particularly children

Final instalment lunchtime tomorrow…