Literature: Here comes everybody

Ideologies clash this weekend as the Anarchist Book Fair vies with the South Bank's reassessment of suburbia.

The programme for this weekend's Anarchist Book Fair quotes from Mikhail Bakunin, the 19th-century Russian revolutionist: "Three things are necessary for people to become moral, complete people in the fullest sense. Birth under hygienic conditions; a rational and integral education with an upbringing based on respect for work, reason and equality and liberty, and a social environment where the individual will be equal in fact and in right to all others. Does such an environment exist? It does not."

While you would expect arguments about the conditions for human fulfilment to ring loud and clear through the corridors of Conway Hall, is it possible that a similar kind of debate will be taking place over the river at the South Bank? Today sees the launch of a series of lectures under the title Acacia Avenue: Journeys in Suburbia, which peers over the fence at what is often dismissed as the landscape of creative dearth, the sprawling graveyard of human potential. The 14 speakers involved in this two-month ideas-fete will be offering competing claims about this semi-detached hinterland. Though mocked by critics such as Pope, the faux-rustic dream which started to spread out along the railways during the Victorian era, was greeted by many with the kind of rapture that Bakunin reserved for the arrival of his collectivist society. Here was a clean-air environment, its time clock adjusted according to the rhythm of the city that provided an ideal of equality in the ever-widening replication of its domestic bliss.

Of course, the dream turned sour - a Fall charted by that Milton of the suburbs, John Betjeman. Metro-land, his 1973 televised passage to the encroached-upon likes of Harrow and Chorleywood, is part-celebration, part-lament. But at century's end, voices still rise up in its defence. Among them JG Ballard, who describes suburbia as being at the "cutting edge of all social change". Acacia Avenue won't be able to offer the Book Fair's front-line dialogue (re Reclaim the Streets and Ex-Class War) but it might provide even the most devout anarchist with something to chew on: think before you smash that gnome.

PEOPLE POWER

Anarchist Book Fair: 10am-7pm today; comedy benefit featuring Mark Thomas 9-11pm, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, WC1

Acacia Avenue: Peter Hall on "The Arcadian Suburb" 12noon today, Jenny Uglow on "Citizens Boxes" 3pm, Richard Sennet on "Forster, Eliot and the City" 5pm, Frank Delaney on "A Place in the Suburbs" 7.30pm, Philip Hensher on "Life is Elsewhere" 7.30pm Wed. All at the Voice Box, QEH, London SE1 (0171 960 4242) pounds 4/pounds 2.50.

Suggested Topics
Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk