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Nairn's London (Penguin Modern Classics) Mass Market Paperback – 6 Nov 2014
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A masterpiece ... Nairn was a poet ... Nairn's London belongs to no genre save its own, it is of a school of one ... There is barely a page which does not contain some startling turn of phrase (Jonathan Meades)
Once you discover him, which in my case was through my dad's copy of Nairn's London, you want to read everything he's written ... He was a literary romantic, with a poetic sensibility (Andrew M. Brown Daily Telegraph)
He taught us how to look (Deyan Sudjic)
One of the finest and most evocative books ever written about a city ... He could see beauty where others just saw dirt, chaos and decay. He delighted in the obscure ... it took me to wonderful buildings and unusual places I probably would not otherwise have discovered. Everything he wrote is worth rereading. During his short, furious, productive career, Ian Nairn had a more beneficial effect on the face of Britain than any other architectural writer of his time ... a great and hugely rewarding book (Gavin Stamp)
His attacks on the banality of Britain's postwar buildings made Ian Nairn an inspiration for a generation of architectural critics. (Jonathan Glancey Guardian)
Arguably the finest architectural writer of the twentieth century ... vivid, sensual descriptions of buildings, a way of writing about architecture that I'd never imagined possible before ... his masterpiece ... a work of architectural criticism and architectural history of huge sophistication and erudition, a rum, bawdy and drunken dance up a back alley, a hymn to those rare moments where the individual and the collective meet (Owen Hatherley)
One of the best and oddest guidebooks to any city ever written (Simon Bradley Evening Standard)
He had the gift of the potent image, making buildings and places animate or human ... anyone who cares even slightly about their surroundings should be intensely grateful ... His common themes are a passion for character, distinctiveness, contrast and surprise, for the unselfconscious and the visceral, and a matching loathing for the statistical, the phoney, the cold, the tepid, the routine, the indifferent and for what he called the "prettification" of places ... His approach was personal and visual, to capture emotional reactions in front of buildings, and record them with literate beauty (Rowan Moore Observer)
Ian Nairn taught me and a lot of us to look at the world (David Thomson)
About the Author
Ian Nairn (1930-1983) was a hugely influential and pugnacious architectural critic, inventor of the crushing term 'subtopia' and central to the growth of the British conservation movement. He co-wrote with Nikolaus Pevsner the Sussex volume in the Buildings of England series. London was his great obsession and Nairn's London his lasting monument. He once paid his wife the compliment of stating that she 'would certainly have been in Nairn's London had she only been made of brick or stucco'.
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Top Customer Reviews
Congratulations to Penguin Books for making such a fantastic job of the reprint.
This has the perfect look and feel of the 1966 edition: right size, right texture, and a generous slab of black and white photos in the middle. For anyone of the right temperament, this would make a magnificent Chriatmas gift. Otherwise, you really owe it to yourself to get this.
I wonder what Nairn would have made of London today? Certainly the presumptions of the brutalists failed to materialise, and the carving out of entire neighbourhoods, and in particular, the pubs, have borne out his criticisms. But what would he have made of the 'villaging' of Southbank, the Tate Modern, and hipster-bankrolled rejuvenation of proper beer, and restoration of pubs?
Ian Nairn acquired a legendary status as an angry young man of architecture in the 1960s and 1970s, and he wrote numerous articles, books and TV programmes before his early demise in the 1980s from alcholism. This book (a reprint of the 1966 original) is the pinnacle of his achievements and, as befits its author, isn't the conventional guidebook that picks out the main tourist spots or architecturally significant buildings in Greater London. Instead, and in Iain Nairn's own words it is "a record of what has moved me between Uxbridge and Dagenham". As such it covers not only many significant buildings in Central London but also alleyways, pubs, viewpoints as well as buildings perhaps only really known within their own locale.
Reading the book makes you want to rush out and visit the places he mentions or at least sit with a London A-Z and the internet to hand to find out more. Sadly, much has changed since this book was written and many of the places he describes have since disappeared or at least changed utterly. What Ian Nairn would make of these places now is easy to imagine given the strong opinions he expresses throughout his writing on what he found on his initial visit. Whilst it contains accurate and clear architectural and historical background to the places included, it is these opinions that moves it in to a league of its own.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I originally learned about Nairn through the (rather uncharacteristic) sincere praise he has repeatedly received from Jonathan Meades, who you will notice is quoted on the book's... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
My how London has changed/stayed the same. The reissue of this paperback is a notable event. A must for anyone interested in great architectural writing. Or writing. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Tel
Excellent book. Poetic writing. Makes you determined to seek out the places that Ian Nairn so vividly describes.Published 8 months ago by Tim
Bought as gift for someone interested in Architecture, good price. Nice size to carry around.Published 11 months ago by Dizzy Den
An enjoyable read from the 1960's which is still very relevant today as developers continue to destroy London's architectural heritage.Published 12 months ago by Roz
Idiosyncratic, blunt and insightful. Great fun discovering some gems that Nairn found over 50 years ago. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Mr. Bruce Waite