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The Plato Papers by Peter Ackroyd
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The Plato Papers (original 1999; edition 2001)

by Peter Ackroyd

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362None29,826 (3.61)5
Member:JBD1
Title:The Plato Papers
Authors:Peter Ackroyd
Info:Anchor
Collections:Removed
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Fiction, Read in 2012

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The Plato Papers by Peter Ackroyd (1999)

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Not one of the Ackroyd must-reads, in my opinion. It is stylistically interesting, but seems obscure about the theme of the tale. It uses a good deal of imagery arising from Plato's cave. Perhaps we are dealing with a story about the amount of direct and brutal experience is compatible with normal levels of human comfort. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Dec 30, 2013 |
Peter Ackroyd is best known to me as one of England's finest writers, and an entertaining expert on London and the country it dominates. 'The Plato Papers' is, for me, a brightly illuminating star in an infinitely broader canvas, that of life and its self-perception. All societies seem to throw up outsiders, and the human subject of the society which is here the context is fortunate in having his alien qualities accepted as such without rancour, despite endemic misunderstanding. The setting is a London of the far future, for which present times are pathetically (and amusingly) mistaken, and the character called Plato is found arguing that the accepted world picture of his future existence invites and embraces enlightening comparisons that are unpalatable to this future picture. It is a short novel whose arguments are both clearly set out and startlingly illuminating. A superb book. ( )
1 vote CliffordDorset | Dec 16, 2012 |
A clever short novel set in the year 3700, in a future London where a future Plato orates to the people of the city about the distant, obscured past (including on the novelist Charles Dickens' reviled story On the Origin of Species, the humorist Sigmund Freud, and the Esteemed American Poet known as E. A. Poe. The book ends up being both a playful meditation on misinterpretation of historical evidence and on the nature of philosophical inquiry generally. ( )
  JBD1 | Dec 10, 2012 |
I found this quite heavy going and it took me ages to read the 137 pages. ( )
  isabelx | Feb 4, 2011 |
Ackroyd, Peter - Prose & Criticism/Fiction/Fiction - General/General/Fiction / Literary
  Budzul | Jun 1, 2008 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385497695, Paperback)

In A.D. 3700, London's greatest orator, Plato, regularly delivers bravura public lectures on the long and tumultuous history of what is now a peaceful, tranquil city, secure in the certainty of its own relationship to the past. Particularly fascinated with the dark and confused epoch known as the Age of Mouldwarp, stretching from A.D. 1500 to A.D. 2300, Plato discourses on its extraordinary figures and customs from what evidence remains. These include orations on the clown Sigmund Freud and his comic masterpiece, Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious; the African singer George Eliot, apparently author of The Waste Land; and Charles Dickens's greatest novel, The Origin of Species. And then there's E.A. Poe--or rather, Poet:
The eminence and status of the author are not in doubt. The name, for example, was not difficult to interpret. Poe is an abbreviation of Poet, and by common consent the rest was deciphered: E. A. Poe = Eminent American Poet. It seems clear enough that the writers of America enjoyed a blessed anonymity, even in the Age of Mouldwarp. The word 'poet' is known to all of us, but as there are no chants or hymns in 'Tales and Histories' we believe the term was applied indiscriminately to all writers of that civilisation.
Plato also elaborates on the era's strange rites and rituals, including "the cult of webs and nets" that apparently covered and enslaved the population. But then in the midst of these brilliant, precise public performances, he begins a dialogue with his soul. Doubt begins to creep in (Is the past really past? And are the rituals of the present so superior?), leading him on a fateful journey.

The Plato Papers is an extraordinary novel. As with the best of Peter Ackroyd's fiction, it treads a thin line between fantasy and biography, the genre he so elegantly mastered in his now classic studies Dickens, T.S. Eliot, and The Life of Thomas More. Wise and salutary, it is a wonderfully observed satire of misprision and the arrogance of philosophical certainty. --Jerry Brotton

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:40 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A novel on the way time deforms reality and the futility of bucking the process. In the 37th century, as a result of an error somewhere over the centuries, academics teach The Origin of Species was not a book on evolution by Charles Darwin, but a novel by Charles Dickens. When the hero questions the accuracy of this bit of history, he lands in trouble.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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