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After London, or Wild England

Richard Jefferies

Book Overview: 

Jefferies’ novel can be seen as an early example of “post-apocalyptic fiction.” After some sudden and unspecified catastrophe has depopulated England, the countryside reverts to nature, and the few survivors to a quasi-medieval way of life.

The first part of the book, “The Relapse into Barbarism”, is the account by some later historian of the fall of civilization and its consequences, with a loving description of nature reclaiming England. The second part, “Wild England”, is an adventure set many years later in the wild landscape and society.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .overs had rotted away these hundred years, and were now supplied by a broad sheet of limp leather with wide margins far overlapping the edges; many of the pages were quite gone, and others torn by careless handling. The abridgment of Roman history had been scorched by a forest fire, and the charred edges of the leaves had dropped away in semicircular holes. Yet, by pondering over these, Felix had, as it were, reconstructed much of the knowledge which was the common (and therefore unvalued) possession of all when they were printed.

The parchments contained his annotations, and the result of his thought; they were also full of extracts from decaying volumes lying totally neglected in the houses of other nobles. Most of these were of extreme antiquity, for when the ancients departed, the modern books which they had composed being left in the decaying houses at the mercy of the weather, rotted, or were destroyed by the frequent grass fires. But those that had been pre. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Some "classics" are under-appreciated for a reason. The back-cover quote by A.S. Byatt is spot-on: the setting here is spectacular, and the book's first thirty pages, which describe the slow takeover of a post-apocalyptic London by its natural elements, have hardly aged a day (they're comparable...more

This was very different from the normal post-apocalyptic fare, and quite refreshing once I'd adapted to the slower pace. It was originally published in 1885, which surprised me, because I probably would have dated it at least 40 years later.

Don't expect a thrilling fast-moving adventure tale with...more

‘After London’ has the distinction of being a very early post-apocalyptic novel, written in 1885. This is rather the most interesting thing about it, as although some of the details are striking, the plot is very formulaic. The book begins with a lyrical evocation of England after a mysterious, i...more

Изключително добре написана постапокалиптична книга, особено като се има предвид годината на издаването ѝ. Джефрис не задълбава в причините за апокалипсиса, но има намеци за пандемия в началото, както и такива за климатични изменения, заради напредващата по негово време индустриализация, към края...more

Described by the Observer as a strong candidate for the most beautiful of all Victorian novels, the fact of Jeffries being a nature writer shines through both in his scientific description of post apocalyptic England and the descriptions of the hero's voyages which teem with detail about the bird...more

2 - 2.5 stars

I would classify Richard Jefferies’ _After London_ as part of a somewhat obscure subset of post-apocalyptic fiction I like to call ‘post-apocalyptic pastoral’ along with books like Edgar Pangborn’s Davy, Richard Cowper’s The Road to Corlay, and John Crowley’s Engine Summer. Unlike th...more

An early scientific postapocalypse, and a strange book. Jefferies was primarily a nature writer, and the first half of the book is dedicated to a biology-first view of succession and speciation in a post-collapse UK. River mouths have silted up, and much of southern England is now a great lake fe...more

First book read after my first cataract surgery and if I hadn’t been trapped at home, I’m not sure I would have finished it. The first whole section is primarily an info dump—how the U.K. has changed since some rather nebulous apocalypse (or maybe it was nebulous to me because I was struggling to...more

"Il semble pourtant que Richard Jefferies ait herité de son père l'amour de la nature, des bons livres, de la pêche, de la chasse, et que tous ses goûts lempecherent dembrasser de métier de fermier. L'insuccès de son père comme agriculteur prévint sans aucun doute Richard contre cette vie, et ce...more

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