Isabella writes an excellent post about Patrick Hamilton, whom I haven’t read but have often meant to. She quotes here the opening of Hamilton’s The Slaves of Solitude:
"London, the crouching monster, like every other monster has to breathe, and breathe it does in its own obscure, malignant way. Its vital oxygen is composed of suburban working men and women of all kinds, who every morning are sucked up through an infinitely complicated respiratory apparatus of trains and termini into the mighty congested lungs, held there for a number of hours, and then, in the evening, exhaled violently through the same channels.
The men and women imagine they are going into London and coming out again more or less of their own free will, but the crouching monster sees all and knows better."
This book was published in 1947.
Although I concur wholeheartedly with these sentiments of Hamilton’s, I was reminded of rather an opposite conclusion in a book which I read many years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed: The Ladies of Lyndon by Margaret Kennedy (best known for "The Constant Nymph"). I don’t remember many of the details of this 1920s (or thereabouts) book apart from the love-triangle theme, but what sticks in my mind is the liberation via commuterdom experienced by one of the characters.
I suppose commuting must once have seemed refreshing and novel.