Customer Review

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 46 years on, still a fresh perspective on London, 31 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Nairn's London (Paperback)
This book, above all others, taught me to see for myself. From the age of ten I devoured topography; first whatever I could find in my parents' house, then in libraries. 'Nairn's London', discovered in the landing bookcase at home in a Middlesex semi, was the first such work I truly connected with. Instead of worthy summaries of places, their historic monuments and connections, here was writing that concentrated on what they were like to be in, how the author responded to them.

Ian Nairn was a one-off, and his guide to London is too. All the big historic and cultural attractions (in 1966) are in its gazetteer of 450 individual entries, but there is no undue reverence for any of them. Many other subjects are absent from other guides - pubs, townscape sequences, juxtapositions and places. Nairn set out his stall in his preface - he selected on "character, or personality, or essence".

A strong modernist admiration for the urgent expression of function in structures runs through the book, but Nairn did not spare the mediocrity being heaped on London in the name of modernism. Pre-20th century architecture dominates the central London entries: John Nash is the principal hero, followed by Hawksmoor, then Wren. Another great theme is feeling, with some Victorian architects criticised as heartless - yet whilst Sir George Gilbert Scott is dismissed as a hack, Nairn's struggle with the oeuvre of George Edmund Street is genuinely moving.

The whole book is an exhilarating ride peppered with flashes of an astonishing artistic compass and wholeness of vision. As Nairn's preface frankly admits, if you want all the factual background you will need other books to fill you in; but there is no book about the built fabric of London with more heart.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

5.0 out of 5 stars (2 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (2)
4 star:    (0)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
Used & New from: £4.88
Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Top Reviewer Ranking: 58,657