19 March 2012

a region of mythological darkness

Such a cult of fatalism can be seen as consolidation of the north's older repuation for depression, ill-fortune and occult or demonic presence. If the north, historically, has been regarded as a psychic lightning conductor for suffering and random evil, informed by legends of withcraft (as at Pendle Hill, with the torture of witches at Lancaster gaol), the exploits of Brady and Hindley on the Moors, the horror of working conditions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the botched redevelopment schemes of the 1960s and 1970s and the collapse of the local industries throughout the 1980s, then you have a region of mythological darkness.
Michael Bracewell, England is Mine (London: Flamingo, 1997), p. 172

Reading this, at first I thought I'd found the passage that had sparked David Peace's Red Riding books into life: the latency of local evil, even the property deals are there. But Nineteen Seventy-Four came out in 1998*, so I guess it's more that Bracewell & Peace each corroborate the other's vision of Yorkshire as hellmouth.

*Just double-checked & it was in fact 1999... so maybe more truth to first thought.


Phil Knight said...

It's a funny thing though, but if you read Christopher Hill's "The World Turned Upside Down", the north is portrayed as a fairly stable, traditional, peaceful region, and all the religious-fanatical uproars are happening in the south-east. Many of the biggest outrages of the Civil War happened in what is now the stockbroker belt.

Sometime during the mid-18th Century, the south became the north, and the north became the south.

Zone Styx Travelcard said...

C18 into C19 the north was awash with industrial money & philanthropic municipal projects... but then again that was the era of Blake's dark satanic mills. Bracewell quotes from the novel Billy Liar at one point: 'I don't mind the dark satanic mills. It's the dark satanic chip shops and the dark satanic pubs and the dark satanic etc...'