This is an unabridged republication of the original book released under the banner of ‘Doomsday Classics’ by Dover. After London explains how generations ago a ‘black orb’ devastated our planet, causing millions of people to inexplicably leave Britain and never return. The impact on the deserted countryside is equally impressive, and Jefferies describes in detail how nature re-establishes itself and changes the British landscape.
Fields of crops are soon overtaken and devastated by brambles, trees and all manner of weeds. Rivers, streams and irrigation channels block-up or get diverted, ecological changes cause a huge lake to be created in the centre of England, and London is reduced to a swamp where no one can go without being poisoned by the vapours that emerge from it. Animal behaviour also changes in accord with the new landscape; thousands of mice and rats feast on wasted crops, whilst pigs, sheep, cattle and horses have died off in huge numbers and the few survivors have resorted to foraging in the dense woodlands.
Humans have returned to primitive forms like the Bushmen who lurk deep in the woods and are opportunistic robbers, or the Gypsies who exist in small tribes scattered across Britain. Then there are the more ‘civilised’ people who live in fortress-like settlements and are organised like the feudal systems of the Middle Ages. Little knowledge of the old technology exists and only a few books remain, though only the elite are able to read or write. The main priority is to resist the predations of the Welsh, Irish and Northern invaders who target the townships that cluster around the great lake in the midlands.
Originally published in 1885, this early example of a post-apocalypse novel, shows off Jefferies’ knowledge of natural history and the rural landscape, which he wrote about in numerous essays and other works of fiction. Once he has outlined the changes in the natural world and the return to a pre-industrial age, Jefferies’ uses part two of the book to focus on Felix Aquila, who is the son of an impoverished Baron. He is quiet, intellectual and overlooked, and seeks to find a place for himself elsewhere. Felix achieves this by building a canoe and goes off to explore the lake and what is left of London. On his trip he finally finds acceptance from a shepherd tribe who are impressed by his knowledge of technology, and with his confidence boosted he returns home to seek Aurora who is his long-term love interest.
After London is a contemplative slow-moving story which seriously considers what would happen if all we take for granted is wiped out and we have to start anew.
AFTER LONDON / AUTHOR: RICHARD JEFFERIES / PUBLISHER: DOVER PUBLICATIONS INC. / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW