Rykwert, On Adam’s House in Paradise
Rykwert’s book, first published in 1971, is the architectural history of an idea: the hut. The author is an established authority on architecture and ideas, and he embarks on an excursion through five centuries of thought “in order to show how the notion of a first house (right because it was first) … had an extended history and is certainly as old as architectural history.”
If this seems unfamiliar territory for eremitism, it is essential not to overlook the ideal and the reality of the hut in the life of eremitism. The implications of a quest for the origins of the hut is, in effect, an attempt to describe the archetypal hermit’s dwelling.
But the story is far more complex, and Rykwert leads the reader on a dazzling (perhaps overwhelming) survey of names and notions, from the famous (Corbusier, Gropius) to the obscure, which is nearly everyone else to the average reader: Blondel, Cesariano, Laugier, Lodoli, Milizia, Nisan, Paoli, Perrault, Semper, Villalpanda. And there asides from thinkers like Seneca, Vico, Rousseau, and Ruskin, followed by a grand summary of Vitruvius, the original architectural theorist of ancient Rome. Rywkert concludes with an essential look at ritual and the formation of the cultural mind on conceiving the hut. This is a complex and informative book.
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