Chatterton (Abacus Books) Paperback – 1 Jun 1988
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Top Customer Reviews
The book covers episodes in the lives of writers, artists, dealers and critics in three different centuries. The main characters in all three discuss and practise various degrees of fraud and plagiarism. This is potentially interesting. Unfortunately a series of examples of the practice scattered with miscellaneous comments about reality does not add up to anything but, when you look at it carefully, is actually its own form of fakery - faked insight. Here are a few examples.
"There is no reality except invisible things".
"I can endure death. It is the representation of Death I cannot bear".
"I said they were fakes. I didn't say they weren't real."
And a longer one:
-Tell me of the poets you have known.
-...Ah, poets, well there was Tookson, a crabbed old body with a pen of vitriol.
- He used to frequent the Hercules Tavern, do you know the one in Dean Street? He was there so often he became known as the pillar of Hercules.
- No, not such men as he, the real poets.
- Never you mind to say who's real and who unreal.
The most interesting part of the book is the story of Chatterton himself (which is broadly the same as the half page summary on wikipedia) and the tongue-in-cheek theory of his suicide, which is fun but not thought provoking enough to carry the novel.Read more ›
A great book, I hope you'll love it as much as I did.
The historical basis upon which Peter Ackroyd hangs the plot of his novel is the life of Thomas Chatterton, the poet who committed suicide at the slight age of eighteen. Wallis's iconic painting of the death adorns the book's cover and its creation in the mid-nineteenth century forms a major element of the book's plot. There's also an eccentric English lady who has made money from writing and drinks gin incessantly from a teaspoon. There's an art gallery offering some works by a famous painter. They are declared fakes.
Charles Wychwood is an ailing, none too successful poet. He has a wonderful relationship with his young son, and a cooler one with his wife who has grown used to supporting her husband's apparent lack of achievement. One day Charles decides to raise a little capital in a sale-room, but then ends up blowing his money on a painting. It's a portrait, professedly of a middle-aged Chatterton. So perhaps he faked his own death so he could continue his trade anonymously. The idea captivates Charles because he knows a little of the poet's background.
Chatterton was born in the later part of the eighteenth century. He became obsessed with a series of medieval texts and started to copy their style. Thus he became the author of bogus medieval poetry, some of which he managed to publish.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was caught up in the mystery presented in the first half of the book, when Charles discovers a painting which appears to portray the boy poet-forger Chatterton decades after his... Read morePublished on 22 Jun. 2012 by neverendings
SAFE READING - NO SPOILERS
The tragic death under mysterious circumstances of a seventeen year-old successful forger of medieval manuscripts seems a guaranteed... Read more