Frances Spalding

Weighty Matters

The Architect's Secret: Victorian Critics and the Image of Gravity

By

John Murray 228pp £20 order from our bookshop

THIS SMALL BOOK touches on a large subject: style in architecture. But do not conclude from the title that it merely revives the battle of styles in Victorian architecture. Mordaunt Crook’s new study of four Victorians, only one of whom was a professional architect, makes the reader aware of ‘style’ in a deeper sense. The reasoning is supplied by Coventry Patmore, who, though better known as a poet and fringe Pre-Raphaelite, is here claimed to have been an architecture critic of extraordinary powers. Style, in his view, does not only clothe this or that building according to the architect’s or owner’s personal taste, but runs deeper: it is integral to a whole culture, and symbolic of collective ideals.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Seventy years on, the time we have left to gather such first-hand testimony is running out.' John Keay on the sig… ,
    • The author 'seethes with contemptuous indignation at the shiny junk that an unregulated construction industry dumps… ,
    • 'The physical courage he demonstrated as a young man [...] gave way to intellectual power; radical thought, gifted… ,
    • 'While Jane Austen didn’t perhaps achieve the full recognition that she deserved in her lifetime, even then she out… ,
    • 'All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, The romantic lie in the brain Of the sensual man-in-the-street And t… ,
    • 'You are interested in a particular subject; basic research hardens this interest into an obsession, after which th… ,
    • 'Keynes predicted that future generations would enjoy such an improved standard of living that they might work just… ,