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Have a look in the News section- Edinbrugh is set to go for official status as world city of literature. This is on the basis of writers such as Stevenson, Scott, er... JK Rowling and others. What do we think about this? does London, New York, Athens, or Dublin have a better pedigree? and is it a good or bad thing to be competing in this way?
Well , why not? ....this time
.. In the end we know that there are wonderful writers all over the place.... I just think of rural Dorset, Thomas Hardy, John Fowles,The Powys Brothers., William Barnes... but Edinburgh is a lovely city and of course the Festival is there ( but at the risk of being hit over the head with a haggis...I would choose Dorchester !)
Oxford seems an abvious choice how many writers went to the university?..so many novels set in and around and Shelley,Martin Amies, some associations with Lewis Carroll..I am sure the list is endless..
I think Edinburgh has a right to call itself a city of literature. I lived and worked there for 6 months (in the 70's) and worked there on a project in the 90's (the Museum of Scotland) and found the city fascinating.
I think it is a city that not only inspires writers, but also takes great pride in celebrating them.
Amongst other things it has a Writers' Museum, which although I have only visited once, I found intriguing, and would like to return.
If only the same could be said of other cities, it certainly puts London to shame.
Bit of a bloody cheek JK Rowling comes from The Forest of Dean or at least she did when she wrote much of the first book and went to school here and I believe at least one of the characters is based on one of her ex teachers.She just happens to live their now
Their are other citys which surley have as good if not better claim
If we take The Royal Forest of Dean we have J.K Rowling, Dennis Potter ( who it can be argued changed TV drama) Winifred Foley whose Child of the Forest is a classic. Edna Healey to name but a few
"My town has better writers than your town"
"Well we have better restaurants and cafes"
"Our streets are cobbled and pretty"
"My daddy could beat up your daddy"
Do people never grow out of this attitude?
Fair enough then
What I mean is .. people will always compare, its human nature, where is the best place to live, where is the best place to sit in a restaurant, which is the better piece of writing, which is the best book, the best play, the best film, the best beer, the best dish, the most beautiful actress. Take that away from life and what do you have? An ant colony? Even then its where is the best place to get aphids to milk and which milk is the best?
It's not just comparisons, though, is it? It's title dropping.
Liverpool is the "Capital of Culture".
Now that's hilarious. In a country that has no discernable cultuer of its own, we have a Capital City for it. That it's Liverpool is quite possibly the most ironic statement ever sent out.
People drop these titles down to change our perceptions of places. To make us think "oh, well it must be good then". Why do they do that? Because, sadly enough, it works. The vast majority of people on this planet haven't evolved mentally since we were still swinging in trees to avoid sabretooth tigers, and are effectively little more than driven lemmings that are only capable of doing what they're told to do and are highly susceptible to suggestion.
Marking someplace the "City of Literature" will raise the profile of the place. Because of a name.
A rose by any other name, could well smell sweeter.
well I agree that we have problems with defining our culture..but I feel it is a good idea to at least raise some awareness of cultural things for the "lemmings" as you put it..most people are in a situation where they have no choice.. and I am not going to go into the whole education thing either! So surely it is a good idea in some ways to just alert people to the fact there is something more than just food on the table and a car and a roof over your head. and Eastenders..people need dreams and aspirations..and rather like having books around for a child and reading to them..at least they are there for them..
and however small..its a good idea to try and make people proud of the place that they live in..be that a label or not...
I wouldn't be proud of living in Liverpool, whatever title they stuck on it...
Ooh, bit contentious there IB- watch out for a 'pool backlash. Anyway, I'd agree that anything that raises the general interest in literature, whether classic or contemporary, lit or beach read, is a Good Thing. But Ellenna, Dorset is a damn good contender... had totally forgotten about Dorset. Oops.
I'd be interested to find out how much funding actually winning this title draws in to the city, and where it's allocated.
I was living in Norwich when the council there tried to apply for City of Culture (sorry IB, but whatever you say about Liverpool this was far more ridiculous and mock worthy - especially when they blamed their failure on bad press from Alan Partridge ... no really, they did!) But their primary reason for doing it was pound signs...
It would be great to see some more time and funding allocated to young writers in any city. Hell, I've always wanted to live in Edinburgh... now might be the time to think about it
As someone who currently resides in Leicester (city of the environment - ha ha), I'd just like to say that I think such titles are pretty defunct. I used to live in Edinburgh, and yes, it is a wonderful city (if you like being cold), but I think the title of city of literature is going too far.
Writers are not generic to a particular place. They come from all over, and Britain itself is well known as being one of, if not THE most, literate country in the world. I think we should leave it at that.
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Anent Edinburgh -
Walter Scott, David Hume, James Boswell, Adam Smith, Robert Fergusson, Thomas Carlyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Irvine Welch, Norman MacCaig, Sir Robert Lindsay, Robert Burns (arguably), not to mention The Traverse Theatre, one of the great seed-beds of the theatrical revolution of the sixties, and Hugh MacDiarmid, Sidney Goodsir Smith and Sorley MacLean...................
A random list which, in my opinion, very few cities could match. Anyway, it's only a handy tourist-trap title, and where's the harm in that?
Totally unbiased entry by aging son of 'the Athens of the North'!
P.S. Also, along with Dublin, it's got the best selection of second-hand bookshops in the U.K.!