Literature and London Part 3: Odds and Ends and a Bit of Shakespeare

Alright, again, a lot of my LaL pictures don’t take place in London. But bear with me, because I do like the alliteration in the blog title!

All the same, I hadn’t planned a vacation around books for the most part, but I can’t help being transported to locations in fiction when I visited England. Some of the locations in London itself helped remind me how celebrated authors were. Some locations triggered a memory of a book or a detailed description of a setting in a rather enjoyable book. And some locations pretty much screamed scenes from literature I’d enjoyed in the past.

Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

When he had first arrived, he had found London huge, odd, fundamentally incomprehensible, with only the Tube map, that elegant multicolored topographical display of underground railway lines and stations, giving it any semblance of order. Gradually he realized that the Tube map was a handy fiction that made life easier but bore no resemblance to the reality of the shape of the city above. It was like belonging to a political party, he thought once, proudly, and then, having tried to explain the resemblance between the Tube map and politics, at a party, to a cluster of bewildered strangers, he had decided in the future to leave political comment to others. – Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Honestly, I was pretty much experiencing the same thing Richard Mayhew experienced the first time he came to London and went to examine the Underground map. The London Tube didn’t take too long to navigate, and I must have gotten off the wrong stop maybe once on my seven days of having taken it on a daily basis. I could understand why it gets a bit confusing (nothing beats the simplicity of Rome’s underground lines), but I’ve had a bit of practice with city train stations.

All the same, every single time I entered the Tube, I had Neverwhere in the brain, heh.

They arrived in Bath. Catherine was all eager delight; her eyes were here, there, and everywhere. – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

There is a major Jane Austen presence in Bath, and the irony of it is, the writer herself was well-known for her dislike of Bath. It was a place best left to the elderly and the sick and the long host of husband-hunters. It was not a place Jane had wanted to move to and live in for a few years. And yet she did, and at least two of her books were set in Bath, while a number of others mention Bath occasionally.

I went to Bath for only a short period of time, and honestly, the time I spent there was not enough. It was a beautiful place, and I could have spent more than a day just exploring the area and walking the places that Jane frequented. Unfortunately, since it was a short stop on my tour (which included three other places), I had a measly hour to…well…soak in the sights.

There had been three alternatives, London, Bath, or another house in the country. All Anne’s wishes had been for the latter… She disliked Bath, and did not think it agreed with her – and Bath was to be her home… – Persuasion by Jane Austen

And then of course I saw the Jane Austen Centre and was absolutely devastated that I couldn’t spend the day at the museum and the tea room! I settled with grabbing a few souvenirs, however, so my visit wasn’t completely in vain. On my next sojourn to London, I definitely plan to go back to Bath and stay there for a couple of days at least.

I could feel the hair rising on my forearms, as though with cold, and rubbed them uneasily. Two hundred years. From 1945 to 1743; yes, near enough. And women who traveled through the rocks. Was it always women? I wondered suddenly. – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Let’s be clear, Stonehenge isn’t Craigh na Dun. It’s nowhere near Craigh na Dun, which is located near Inverness, which is in Scotland. England is not Scotland. HOWEVER, as far as stone circles go, Stonehenge is one of the preserved landmarks littering the British and Irish isles. And unless I traveled to Scotland (which I will…eventually), this was as close as I was going to get to pulling a Claire and traveling to the 1740s.

Not that I’d want to be in England during the 1740s. Unless I was in Bath, lol!

I prayed all the way up that hill yesterday,” he said softly. “Not for you to stay; I didna think that would be right. I prayed I’d be strong enough to send ye away. – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

DON’T JUDGE ME. Of course I’d have to do my Outlander pose. The standing stones were calling to me, and I was so dressed for the part! Almost tempted to Photoshop Jamie Mackenzie Fraser onto this picture…

And okay, this one was actually in London. So I’m justified in posting Outlander things. Mostly things about the wonderful James Fraser. I’d go into his house, too.

Cobbled streets and no shops open past six o’clock, a communal life that seemed to revolve around church, and where you could often hear bird song and nothing else: Gaia felt as though she had fallen through a portal into a land lost in time. – The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

I haven’t actually read The Casual Vacancy, but I walked into Lacock imagining it was the type of English village that Rowling had been describing in the book. It certainly has that feel of falling into a different time period. The village itself was very quiet when I visited. It was almost six o’clock, shops were closed except for the local pub, the place smelled of petrichor (because, yes, it did just rain), and besides my tour, no other visitor was around. On top of that, small booths with tills were assembled just outside of the stone houses, selling mint and meringue and other lovely things, and all we had to do was drop the money into the till!

And on a J.K. Rowling note: Can I just make note that I found Professor Slughorn’s house? Apparently Lacock was one of those little Harry Potter locations that Warner Bros. filmed at. Friggin’ awesome, that.

The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances. – Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Anyway, back to London. Ran into monument to Agatha Christie and I pretty much smiled at the thought that this woman is still going to be celebrated decades from now. If there’s any expert on mystery stories, it’s definitely her.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. – As You Like It by William Shakespeare

The Globe Theatre! Though as I understand it, this was not the original one. With the amount of times the original Globe burned down or was destroyed, this Globe Theatre is a copy of where Shakespeare put on his plays. That said, I had visited the original location as well, though there isn’t much to take a picture of, the original Globe area is now just a plain ole’ lot with a sign about the Globe Theatre on it.

As for the present Globe, it certainly stuck out amidst all the modern buildings surrounding it. I would have loved to have watched a play while I was in London, but didn’t think that far ahead to book myself a ticket. A shame, but something I am looking to remedy next time I head over there.

The play’s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king. – Hamlet by William Shakespeare

And that was just a pretty damn cool mural of the Bard.

Welp. I think that pretty much sums up my travels through fiction! Now…if I could only budget in order to go traveling again next year…

For previous posts of Literature and London, check these links:
Literature and London Part 1: A Darker Shade of London Magic
Literature and London Part 2: Hogwarts and Harry Potter

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Literature and London Part 2: Hogwarts and Harry Potter

Technically, most of the Harry Potter stories don’t really figure into London, and even the Warner Bros. Studio (which houses many of the original scenes and prop decorations) lot isn’t located in London. But I suppose it wouldn’t be a “Literature and London” series if I called it something different every time, heh.

And I did say I was going to write about my Harry Potter experience.

Which was much easier to say than to do. At first I’d thought it would be almost impossible to do just the one post about a series that originally spanned seven books. I mean, seriously, what pictures would I have to choose? What quotes would fit each picture? And did I really need to add 30+ Quidditch-related pictures? No? Darn.

But what I will add, is this stunning depiction of the Great Hall entrance in all its glory. Because I totally got emotional just seeing them open. I’m not a sap, promise. Okay. Maybe I am. #sorrynotsorry

Seriously, I could go on and on about the series and how much of it has been a part of my life. I could go on and on about how I walked the halls pretending I was kinda sorta there, in my own way, down at Leavesden, inside the Warner Bros. lot. But at the interest of brevity, I won’t go crazy, and have limited myself to blogging about a few choice pictures.

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

It’s the first sentence quite literally heard ’round the world. And it’s the first location within the HP books that readers paid attention to. Not so much because of its perfectly normal, English quaintness, but because of the things that happen right after. Like cats reading maps and owls flying by day and a cloaked man putting out the lights with a cigarette lighter in the middle of the night.

It didn’t come….he kept on running…he opened his eyes.

A scarlet steam engine was waiting next to a platform packed with people. A sign overhead said Hogwarts Express, eleven o’clock. Harry looked behind him and saw a wrought-iron archway where the barrier had been, with the words Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on it. He had done it.

I hadn’t been able to visit the King’s Cross Station platforms much, even though I had walked by that way a few times to transfer lines. That said, it was still fun to walk into the HP Studio to find myself transported to Platform 9 3/4, with a full-blown train set on makeshift tracks, just waiting for people to board it. And I didn’t even have to walk through a wall!

There was a loud “Oooooooh!”

The narrow path had opened suddenly onto the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.

I had originally selected a different picture, one of a much larger model of the Hogwarts grounds. Unfortunately, WordPress didn’t seem to like showing it because it’s one of those weird panorama photos, so I had to make do with a miniature model of what set designers pictured Hogwarts would look like. Still, it’s rather impressive. And if you were standing before a much larger model of the castle, you’d be severely knocked out with awe.

“You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potionmaking…I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses…I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death…”

Confession: While I probably would have excelled in Arithmancy (because math-ish magic? Yespls!), my passion would have probably been Potions class. And not because I think about using it for evil or anything…um. Let’s hide any evidence I try to poison people through my concoctions…*buries the Dark Mark cookies under pillows and stuff*

Honestly, though, the Potions class boasted an excellent ambiance and well-stocked equipment. I wish I had the kind of budget for my future science classroom, but alas.

“The Chasers throw the Quaffle and put it through the hoops to score,” Harry recited. “So–that’s sort of like basketball on broomsticks with six hoops, isn’t it?”

“What’s basketball?” said Wood curiously.

Quidditch! Anything that can let you fly on broomsticks is a fun game to me. And yes, I do have a position I prefer to play, which is kind of fitting, considering I’d probably end up being one of the more violent ones on the field. Unintentionally, of course. I mean, as a Ravenclaw I’d be sort of expected to be able to approximate the trajectory with which to send a bludger careening down the opponent’s head, right? Right? Okay. That joke was made in poor taste. #sorrynotsorry

THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED. ENEMIES OF THE HEIR, BEWARE.

This was quite honestly one of my favorite props there. Apparently the door–which opens up into the Chamber of Secrets–is made out of several snakes that actually do move through a series of mechanisms.

With a yell, he rolled back onto the pavement, just in time. A second later, a gigantic pair of wheels and headlights screeched to a halt exactly where Harry had just been lying. They belonged, as Harry saw when he raised his head, to a triple-decker, violently purple bus, which had appeared out of thin air. Gold lettering over the windshield spelled The Knight Bus.

Also another of my favorite descriptions of things Harry Potter related. This one happens to operate in London in the books, and for the longest time, I actually did think that buses in London were triple-deckers. Of course, I eventually realized that normal buses were only two decks, not three. And none of the official transport was purple, either. How unfortunate!

“What we need,” said Dumbledore slowly, and his light blue eyes moved from Harry to Hermione, “is more time.”

“But–” Hermione began. And then her eyes became very round. “OH!”

It takes a very trusting teacher to give a 13-year-old that much hold on time. Hell, I barely trust my 12- and 13-year-olds to do anything right when given that much responsibility. I mean, you’d think that after two years people would get the idea that Hermione broke almost as many rules as Harry and Ron did during their time at Hogwarts. That said, wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff was interesting at best.

The lid creaked slowly open. Dumbledore reached inside it and pulled out a large, roughly hewn wooden cup. It would have been entirely unremarkable had it not been full to the brim with dancing blue-white flames.

No flames in this particular cup, but then again, this one isn’t exactly the Goblet of Fire. This one happens to be the Triwizard Cup, a prize given to the player who makes it through the third task first. Of course, things don’t go exactly as anyone would expect, but things sort of pan out slowly by the end.

The walls of the Hall had all been covered in sparkling silver frost, with hundreds of garlands of mistletoe and ivy crossing the starry black ceiling. The House tables had vanished instead, there were about a hundred smaller, lantern-lit ones, each seating about a dozen people.

I always thought the Yule Ball was much better done through visuals than description. It was cool to see how the Great Hall was decorated, and how it had changed once the music went from a classical style to The Weird Sisters. Also, the food and drink must have been grand!

And that’s where I’ll stop. I had hoped to have seen a couple other places like the Department of Mysteries and maybe even Xenophilius Lovegood’s house, but I suppose there’s room for them to add to their exhibits later on. When I went, the Forbidden Forest had just opened up, which was cool to see. The Ministry of Magic also had a few highlighted areas, but again, not enough in my book. I would have loved to have seen more.

That said, I did end up walking out of Hogwarts and back into London with a spring in my step and a sweater to tout off my Ravenclaw pride.

For the first Literature and London post, please click here.

Coming up in the last Literature and London post: Odds and ends and a bit of Shakespeare.

Literature and London Part 1: A Darker Shade of London Magic

I’ve been meaning to write this post since I’d gotten back from vacation in April, and somehow time got away with me. Or, shall I say, I ran away from time due to other time-sensitive (hah!)…stuff. In any case, I wanted to do a more geeky, in-depth post about my very short time in London (and its surrounding areas). And, of course, because I’m a book-nerd, I was going to do so with a bookish twist, much like what I did with my Prague post!

“There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London.” – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Unlike Prague, it’s got a bit more of an assortment of literary fandoms, only because many books I’ve read encompass various parts of the United Kingdom, and not just that of the city itself. Since I knew the Shades of Magic and Harry Potter references would run a bit long, I decided to split my London and Literature series of blog posts into three parts.

And, of course, Schwab won out as the first post. Because why the hell not?!

Windsor’s distance from London was terribly inconvenient considering the fact that, when traveling between worlds, Kell could only move between a place in one and the same exact place in another. Which was a problem because there was no Windsor Castle a day’s journey from Red London. In fact, Kell had just come through the stone wall of a courtyard belonging to a wealthy gentleman in a town called Disan. Disan was, on the whole, a very pleasant place.

Windsor was not.

Impressive, to be sure. But not pleasant. – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I knew there was quite a bit of description of certain places in Grey London in A Darker Shade of Magic, but rereading it definitely reopened my eyes to just how much of Grey London had been largely described. I find it a bit appropriate that when I visited Windsor, it was kind of a grayish day, much like when Kell walked into the castle to see George III. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Windsor wasn’t a pleasant place, the town itself had a sort of charm, even in lieu of us crazy tourists and our need to look at the inside of The Queen’s favorite residence.

He continued on until the park gave way to the streets of London, and then the looming form of Westminster. Kell had a fondness for the abbey, and he nodded to it, as if to an old friend. Despite the city’s soot and dirt, its clutter and its poor, it had something Red London lacked: a resistance to change. An appreciation for the enduring, and the effort it took to make something so…here, Westminster Abbey always stood, waiting to greet him. – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I felt sort of like Kell, though unlike him, I traveled through the Underground to get to Westminster. When I walked up the stairs and out of the underground, Westminster pretty much greeted me in its staunch regalness and unchanging glory. It was a lovely sight to walk into, and I can’t help grow a fondness for such a structure amidst the hustle and bustle of the city streets.

Even at night, the river shone red.

As Kell stepped from the bank of one London onto the bank of another, the black slick of the Thames was replaced by the warm, steady glow of the Isle. It glittered like a jewel, lit from within, a ribbon of constant light unraveling through Red London. A source.

A vein of power. An artery. – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I pretty much walked parallel to the Thames for an entire day, and I often glanced at it and wondered how the city would have looked if the water was really red. Alas, no magic in this artery. The view, however, is particularly pretty, and I’d like to think that in another time and another London, a tavern boat called the Sea King moored its ports. (Up until it burns down, of course…bad Lila!)

Also, on a similar note, Red London’s version of the Thames is the Isle, a glittering red river running across Red London with power. At the heart of it stands a palace, the House of Maresh, and honestly, if it had a Grey London equivalent, I’d imagine it to be exactly like Tower Bridge, which is certainly a magnificent structure that straddles the river. Wouldn’t it be cool if that was how the palace looked like? It probably doesn’t, but my imagination ran away with me, so…

Lila was soaked to the bone.

Halfway across the bridge, the sky had finally opened up–not a drizzle, as London often seemed to favor, but a downpour. Within moments, they had been soaked through. It certainly didn’t make dragging the half-conscious Kell any easier. – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

And somewhere in the distance–probably at London Bridge (which isn’t Millennium Bridge OR Tower Bridge, but the plain one in between)–in another time and another London, is a crossdressing girl thief dragging a half-conscious ginger-headed Antari across the river and into the Stone’s Throw.

On a related note, skim-reading ADSOM was a good and terribly bad idea. Good because holy hell, HOW did I totally forget about a fake-Kell striptease happening in the middle of the book?! And bad because OMG lots of other things happened and then I ended up spending hours just reading scenes upon scenes of my favorite characters and and…hours later this post still wasn’t written. Yeah.

Pity there wasn’t a Stone’s Throw in sight, but I will say that I dined in a pub near the bridge, which comes a bit close!

Coming up in the next London and Literature post: Hogwarts and Harry Potter.