Nightwalking A Nocturnal History Of London
â Cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night,â wrote the poet Rupert Brooke. Before the age of electricity, the nighttime city was a very different place to the one we know todayâ home to the lost, the vagrant and the noctambulant. Matthew Beaumont recounts an alternative history of London by focusing on those of its denizens who surface on the streets when the sunâ s down.
"Nightwalking is, in both the physical and the moral meanings of the term, deviant. At night, in other words, the idea of wandering cannot be dissociated from the idea of erring - wanderring. This elision or semantic slurring is present in the final lines of John Milton's Paradise Lost (1667), where the poet offers a glimpse, for perpetuity, of Adam and Eve, after their expulsion from Paradise, entering the post-lapsarian world on foot: 'They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow, / Through Eden took their solitary way.