Étienne Balibar writes that today we are at the end of capitalism. This is not because capitalism has run its course or has met an irresistible force, but because there can be no purer form of capitalism than the one we have today. Taking seriously the idea that this strain of capitalism has not only seized the urban environment but is the urban environment, works by Michael Moorcock, Iain Sinclair, Penelope Lively, Peter Ackroyd, and J.G. Ballard are read as representative of a loosely allied group of London writers who have anticipated, critiqued, and offered up various avenues of resistance to the deleterious effects of this most vigorous strain of capitalism.
Writing on the city by charting a politics of reconnection to the real that necessarily unsettles the epistemological and ontological ground upon which both modernity and capitalism sit, this stable of writers makes clear the ways in which the sheer materiality of the urban environment profoundly influences the being and thinking of individuals. In so doing, these writers produce works which when read together give the coordinates of an altermodernity that might just allow capitalism to reach its final conclusion.
Table of Contents
Writing London at the end of capitalism
Michael Moorcock’s Mother London and the viscous city
Iain Sinclair’s Downriver and the allure of the I-city
Penelope Lively’s City of the Mind and the simultaneous city
Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor and the churches of absolute space
J. G. Ballard’s Crash and the seduction of objects
The coordinates of an altermodernity
Grant Hamilton is Associate Professor of English Literature at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He teaches and researches in the areas of twentieth-century world literatures in English and literary theory.