After eight months off (writing and editing 70,000 words will do that to you) I’m reviewing again. Our return to the format looks at Stephen Hart’s Cant: A Gentleman’s Guide to the Language of Rogues in Georgian London. From my review:
Consider the sheer number of synonyms for the word “steal”: Cloy, Do, Filch, File, Fleece, Give it to, Heave, Knap, and a dozen others. Or the myriad ways of referring to gallows: Chates, Crap, Gregorian Tree, Morning Drop, and the riotous mouthful Deadly Nevergreen that bears Fruit All Year. The cant is counter-intuitive, enlightening and—at times—wholly disgusting. Did you know that a concoction nicknamed All Nations is made from “the drainings of the last drops of all bottles collected in a single bowl”?
Cant would be an excellent reference book for writers looking to perfect the jargon of the era, or the vocations, avocations, rogues and spirits behind the jargon. But it is much more than dry reference, namely an eye-opening history lesson and a page-turning good time. I fully recommend it. Read the full review here.
May 6, 2014