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The Urban Chronotope in Peter Ackroyd’s Fiction

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Marta Komsta

The book discusses the evolution of the urban chronotope in the selected novels by Peter Ackroyd, an acclaimed British author. The examined narratives illustrate the transformation from the postmodern tenets of historiographic metafiction into a unique urban mythopoetics by means of a semiotic analysis.
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Chapter 5. The Eternal City

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CHAPTER 5

The Eternal City

Underneath the archesI dream my dreams away,Underneath the archesOn cobble stones I lay,Every night you'll find meTired out and worn,Happy when the daylight comes creepingHeralding the dawn.

Bud Flanagan and Reg Connelly,Underneath The Arches

Three Brothers, Peter Ackroyd’s most recent work, displays some interesting affinities with his first novel, The Great Fire of London, regarding the intertextual affiliations and spatiotemporal design of both texts in particular. Little Dorrit’s overpowering presence in Ackroyd’s debut is reflected in the latest narrative through a much subtler approach as Dickens’ spectre makes itself apparent through names, titles and the underlying theme of “curious coincidence” pervading Ackroyd’s text (19).1 Three Brothers is also an intensely London novel, described by Jessica Holland as “a creepy, melancholy love letter to London and the layers of history that haunt it” (“A review”). The main characters, Harry, Daniel and Sam Hanway, are siblings “born at the same time on the same day of ← 183 | 184 → the same month” in the successive years in the post-war London borough of Camden (53–54). The birth date accounts for a profound bond between the brothers, who remain spiritually connected with one another through “some invisible communion” despite the gradual estrangement in later life (55).2

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