Philipp Röttgers, M.A., born in 1989, feels deeply connected to London, more than to any other place in the world. He is an expert in the capital’s (and Britain’s) literature and culture (he studied English literature and culture accordingly). Röttgers is also a “Ripperologist” (and was already featured in the magazine of the same name). He is an expert on the works of London-related authors such as Peter Ackroyd, Iain Sinclair, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Ben Aaronovitch. Philipp is also an expert on London-related tv shows like Whitechapel und Ripper Street.
Reader’s Favorite Book Review
In London and Its Genius Loci, Philipp Röttgers takes the reader on a tour of London like no other. The approach is two-fold. As Röttgers explores contemporary London and muses upon her historical quirks, he also attempts to detect less corporeal influences. He speculates about how her structure and shadows are touched by the tragedies they bore witness to and reimagined by the stories invented to explain them.
Step by step, word by word, he calls up an imagined landscape that superimposes over what we know and learn of the physical London. It begins in the East End, the epi-center of Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror. There is a side order of likely suspects and other Victorian killers before we move on to the buildings of Nicholas Hawksmoor and visit the place where east meets west and the doorstep of Sherlock Holmes, among others. The quest for clues ultimately leads into the city’s fictional doppelgangers, as defined by Peter Ackroyd, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Ben Aaronovitch.
Like London itself, the vastness of the topic is overwhelming and the term genius loci itself resists definition. At times it is as ephemeral as the fog. Perhaps it is different for each individual, which is why it’s so vital that Röttgers shares his own experience of London in a series of detailed self-guided tours. The undercurrent of misogyny at the heart of so many portrayals of London could (and should) make you uncomfortable, but the author links it to a more primordial struggle – that of Mother Nature against Father Progress, of chaos against order.
By implication, London’s authors become co-creators of its psychic impact on the consciousness of mankind. Although not always an easy read, London and Its Genius Loci by Philipp Röttgers is likely to stay with you. Its reasoning will slip into your mind. It will challenge you to continue applying its conclusions to other stories of London. It will feel as if you’ve been let into a secret world which you can never again unsee.
Reviewed by Carine Engelbrecht for Readers’ Favorite
Review by Claudia Colia for the City Guide magazine (issue 146 – Summer 2020)
Buy the book here.London and its genius loci: A journey beyond time and place
Walks and talks beyond time and place
From 2020 onwards, I also lead walks through London under the title Walks beyond time and place. You can find all the information on this site.
Also, I host a series of conversations with Londoners called “Talks beyond time and place”. Here you can find all the information. My ongoing fiction series “Tales beyond time and place” about London wizard Ruben Pitts can be found here.
- Review: MAJESTICA – A Christmas Carol (Music album)On December 4th, 2020, the power metal band Majestica released their Christmas album “A Christmas Carol” on the label Nuclear Blast Records. The nine songs are a musical version of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”. The four members of the band are Tommy Johansson on guitar and vocals, Alex Oriz on guitar, Chris David on […]
- Review: Magoria – JtR1888 (Music album)Mark Bogert is guitarist with the Dutch prog band Knight Area. He is also a solo artist and performs as acoustic duo Un-Plugged with his fiancée, the singer Nadine Pruim (who also sings on this album). His latest project was released under the name “Magoria“. Called “JtR1888”, it is a rock opera about Jack the […]
- Curious World – Documentary about “The Ratcliffe Highway Murders”Last year I stumbled across the YouTube channel of Curious World on a return trip from London. Then we have started working together – I provided Curious World with ideas and facts about the Ratcliffe Highway murders and the result is a three-part documentary about this exciting criminal case. The documentary chronicles the horrific events […]
- Guest blog for “Jack the Ripper tour”: A look at the connection between the Whitechapel Murders And the TV Series “Whitechapel”It’s an honour to be featured as a guest author on Richard Jones’ website. Richard is a bestselling author (e.g. Jack the Ripper: The Casebook). He is tour guide of Jack The Ripper Tour and London Discovery Tours.
- William Terriss – The ghost of a murdered actorWilliam Terriss (1847 – 1897) was the hero of the Adelphi melodramas. He was murdered outside the theatre in Maiden Lane on 16 December 1897. His ghost is said to haunt Covent Garden station.
- 50 Berkeley Square – The most haunted house in LondonMany spectacular spirits are said to haunt 50 Berkeley Square, the “most haunted house in London”: According to legend, the house is so charged with psychic tension, you only need to touch the exterior brickwork in order to receive a tingling sensation that sends shivers down your spine.
- London: The Hardy Tree in the churchyard of St Pancras Old ChurchBefore Thomas Hardy became a novelist, he supervised the removal of the graveyard St Pancras Old Church in 1865, when the railway lines of St Pancras Station were laid through the site. The tombstones were placed against a great tree. Over the years its roots curled among them, they embraced them. It looks as if […]
- Cleopatra’s Needle – London’s true obeliskCleopatra’s Needle is situated on the Westminster side of the Thames, near Victoria Embankment, across from Lambeth. There were plans to place it right outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, but the location had been rejected. Now Cleopatra’s Needle stands beside the Thames and just like the river, is a solid and fixed part […]
- Review: Steven E Blomer – Inside Bucks Row – Mary Ann Nichols: An Anatomy of Murder (The Whitechapel Murders Project: Book 1)“Inside Bucks Row” is the first of a number of planned volumes on the Whitechapel Murders by author Steve Blomer. It deals with the first of the Jack the Ripper murders, that of Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols in Buck’s Row on 31 August 1888. In his book, Blomer examines all the details surrounding the murder […]
- Sherlock: The London filming locations of series oneThe world’s most famous detective Sherlock Holmes was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887. Holmes and his companion Dr John Watson have become iconic characters. The most recent fame came with the BBC series Sherlock, in which Holmes and Watson investigate in modern day London. The series was created by Steven Moffat and […]
- Review: David Charnick – Death and the City“Death and the City” is a collection of twelve short stories by David Charnick. Each of them deals with the topic of death – well, more with the connection of death and life in London. Or rather: With the ever-existing presence of death and the dead in London.
- Shakespeare and Game Of Thrones – Cymbeline and A Song of Ice and FireIn one of the many Game of Thrones online forums a member going by the nickname ‘AlbertTheSamurai’ asks the online community if they agree if “Game of Thrones is greatly inspired by Shakespeare”. He wonders “whether George R. R. Martin coincedentally made many of his characters like those found in Shakespeare plays (especially the Othello, […]
- The Playwright and the Killer: The Connection between the Jack the Ripper Murders and Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”Appeared originally in Ripperologist no. 144/June 2015 Additional bonus material to chapter 3.2 of my book London and its genius loci – a journey beyond time and place In a post in the Jack the Ripper Casebook forum dated 18 February 2008 someone going by the username Serena stated that she had heard ‘that there […]
- London and its genius loci – a journey beyond time and place (2019)Philipp Röttgers, M.A., born in 1989, feels deeply connected to London, more than to any other place in the world. He is an expert in the capital’s (and Britain’s) literature and culture (he studied English literature and culture accordingly). Röttgers is also a “Ripperologist” (and was already featured in the magazine of the same name). […]