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The Plato Papers [Paperback]

Peter Ackroyd
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

July 25 2000
On ritual occasions, Plato, the orator, summons the citizens of London to impart the ancient history of their city, dwelling particularly on the unhappy era of Mouldwarp (AD 1500-2300). He lectures upon The Origin of Species by the nineteenth-century novelist Charles Dickens and on Sigmund Freud while providing a glossary of twentieth-century terms, and explaining such early myths of creation as "super-string theory'"and "relativity." But then he has a dream, or vision, or he goes on a real journey - opinions are divided - and enters a vast underground cavern, where citizens of Mouldwarp London still live. On his return, Plato shares his stories of this lost world, but his words spread consternation among his fellow citizens and they quickly put him on trial for corrupting the youth with his lies and fables.

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Review

"Funny--insightful--scintillating." - NOW


"A marvellous fable for our times...funny, wise and strange.... Ackroyd has written what we always knew that he alone of his generation could produce: a timeless literary masterpiece." - A.N. Wilson


"Articulate, comic, wise, delicate, melancholy, exquisite...a carefully-pulsed breath of a book with an impact that sneaks into one's dreams." - Independent


"The pervasive presence of a London transformed by the mythical and magical possibilities of its distant past and its imagined future is one of the attractions [of The Plato Papers]." - TLS

From the Back Cover

"Funny--insightful--scintillating." - NOW


"A marvellous fable for our times...funny, wise and strange.... Ackroyd has written what we always knew that he alone of his generation could produce: a timeless literary masterpiece." - A.N. Wilson


"Articulate, comic, wise, delicate, melancholy, exquisite...a carefully-pulsed breath of a book with an impact that sneaks into one's dreams." - Independent


"The pervasive presence of a London transformed by the mythical and magical possibilities of its distant past and its imagined future is one of the attractions [of The Plato Papers]." - TLS


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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Satirical gem Feb. 17 2003
By W. Keir
Format:Paperback
This short book, largely in the form of Socratic dialagues, is jam-packed with powerful satire. Set in the distant future, it reminds us that every age, indeed every generation, has always been convinced it was something special, that it alone had finally sussed out the universe (more or less), and that their ancestors must've been feeble-minded half-wits not to have seen what is so obvious to them.
I found it an excellent antidote to the implicit universal view that we've just reached the zenith of significance and sophistication, just because we happen to be alive in this era. (This view is like the Anthropic Principle applied to history; the book punctures it sweetly and efficiently.)
The laughs point both ways - how wrong the "past" (present) age was about the world, but also how wrong the "present" (future) age is about its understanding of the "past" (present) age. The interpretations from the future of the few surviving fragments of the present age in the far future are slyly hilarious, while the "our ancestors must've been chuckleheads to believe THAT" philosophy (that we would apply to the ancients' geocentric astronomy, for instance) is applied with great effect to some of the foundations of our current world-view.
There are echoes of Ackroyd's theories about personality of place as expressed in his London: A Biography, Plato's philosphy and Socrates' life, and a poetry of perspective.
The identity and future interpretation of the handful of cultural artifacts from our era that survive is one of the incidental joys of this work, I'll just hint at one of the early ones: that classic comedy, The Origin of Species, by Charles Dickens...
Highly Recommended!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satirical gem Feb. 17 2003
By W. Keir - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This short book, largely in the form of Socratic dialagues, is jam-packed with powerful satire. Set in the distant future, it reminds us that every age, indeed every generation, has always been convinced it was something special, that it alone had finally sussed out the universe (more or less), and that their ancestors must've been feeble-minded half-wits not to have seen what is so obvious to them.
I found it an excellent antidote to the implicit universal view that we've just reached the zenith of significance and sophistication, just because we happen to be alive in this era. (This view is like the Anthropic Principle applied to history; the book punctures it sweetly and efficiently.)
The laughs point both ways - how wrong the "past" (present) age was about the world, but also how wrong the "present" (future) age is about its understanding of the "past" (present) age. The interpretations from the future of the few surviving fragments of the present age in the far future are slyly hilarious, while the "our ancestors must've been chuckleheads to believe THAT" philosophy (that we would apply to the ancients' geocentric astronomy, for instance) is applied with great effect to some of the foundations of our current world-view.
There are echoes of Ackroyd's theories about personality of place as expressed in his London: A Biography, Plato's philosphy and Socrates' life, and a poetry of perspective.
The identity and future interpretation of the handful of cultural artifacts from our era that survive is one of the incidental joys of this work, I'll just hint at one of the early ones: that classic comedy, The Origin of Species, by Charles Dickens...
Highly Recommended!
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