How do you write the history of buildings? This is not merely a rhetorical question, but a very real problem for anyone whose primary source material is timber or stone structures. The difficulty is that it is necessary to infer intent and function from objects which cannot speak and for which there is little written evidence.
Robert Hooke (1635–1703) is a pivotal figure in the intellectual life of seventeenth-century Europe. In the study to hand, Michael Cooper intends to ‘rectify some of the neglect and misunderstandings about Hooke by examining his work in London as City Surveyor after the Great Fire and relating this to his work in science’ (p. 2).
In the words of its author, this engaging book ‘tells of the shadows of objects and of images in the brain and, as such, of the only realities that cannot entirely escape from appropriation’ (p. ix). The object in question is Florence, understood both as a material place and as a mythical construction.
This is a beautifully illustrated book of serious scholarship and the three editors and the other contributing authors are to be congratulated.
John Rocque (c.1705–62) was a cartographer and engraver of European repute, who could count among his achievements maps of London, Paris, Berlin and Rome.
Robin Usher’s Protestant Dublin sets out its stall from the beginning: it is a study of symbolic and iconographic landscape of Dublin, the essential purpose of which is to explore ‘how the physical environment conveyed meanings relating [sic] to institutional authority’ (p. 3).
A stigma around the ill-defined genre of popular history lingers in the academy.
This book deals with the history of the city of Ravenna, near Italy’s north eastern coast, in the period between the fifth and the 11th centuries AD. It comprises an excellent introduction by the editors and 15 chapters of varying lengths. It is well illustrated and has a very useful index, not always the case with edited volumes.
On 25 March 1911, a fire broke out on the eighth floor of the Asch Building in Greenwich Village, New York, and quickly began to spread. This floor, as well as the ninth and tenth, housed the Triangle Waist Company, a sweat shop producing ladies’ blouses.