The Infinite City: Utopian Dreams on the Streets of London
London is a city of dreamers. A city of possibility and experiment. A city of fervent imaginings and courageous aspirations. For centuries, it has been the capital of utopian thought. The Infinite City tells this history for the first time.
In his soaring new book, Niall Kishtainy draws us into the imaginative worlds of Thomas More, the Diggers, William Morris and Extinction Rebellion protestors. He introduces us to thinkers like Thomas Spence who threw coins stamped with the words ‘YOU FOOLS’ into the alleys of Holborn. To Ada Salter who was the first woman borough councillor in London and ignited the Bermondsey Revolution. To ninety-two-year-old Dolly Watson who became the queen of Claremont Road in Leytonstone during the Reclaim the Streets protests in the 1990s. These are inspiring tales of people who drew might from the city around them and fought for their ideologies in an increasingly transforming world.
Beginning in the sixteenth century and stretching from the contemporary transformation of the East End docklands to the COVID lockdowns, The Infinite City shows how London’s spirit has been one of visionary imagination amid relentless change and innovation.
EARLY PRAISE FOR THE INFINITE CITY -
”'Engaging… The Infinite City bravely challenges those who view London merely 'as an infernal maze, as a centre of wealth, power and empire' and highlights instead those who have imagined it as a place of 'possibility and experiment'” - TELEGRAPH, 4/5 stars
”'An excellent history of London-based Utopian thought . . . vigorous, rigorous and eminently readable” - SPECTATOR
”'In a series of vivid depictions of London spanning centuries, Kishtainy brings back to life some of London’s utopian dreamers, including the Diggers, Thomas Spence and the socialist mystic James Pierrepont Greaves, founder of the Ham Common Concordium, an austere utopian spiritual co-operative” - LITERARY REVIEW
‘I was fascinated by every page, every anecdote and every detail’BEN JUDAH, author of This is London -
‘From More’s Utopia to the forlorn hopes for a more equitable post-pandemic society, this is a fresh and fascinating look at utopias in theory and practice, artfully framed as a history of London. Conscientiously researched, yet brimful of memorable anecdotes about man-eating sheep and medieval churches made out of pudding, it impresses upon us the importance of daring to dream — and dream big — for yesterday’s impossibility can be tomorrow’s reality’MATHEW GREEN, author of Shadowlands -
‘Reconstructing some of the many utopian fantasies that London has inspired since the sixteenth century, Niall Kishtainy has written a richly informative, elegantly argued book that introduces us to a series of dreamers who, far from appearing eccentric, seem all too relevant in the twenty-first century. The Infinite City will prompt us to rethink the value of utopia as well as to reconsider our understanding of the metropolis’MATHEW BEAUMONT, author of Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London -