The Tyranny of Taste: The Politics of Architecture and Design in Britain, 1550-1960

Overview

This stimulating book discusses the way in which countries acquire their distinctive features and appearance. Focusing on Britain, with its characteristic terraced houses, Georgian squares, postwar slab blocks, and Victorian floral ornamentation, Lubbock traces the fierce debates over consumerism, good design, and town planning that have raged in Britain since the Elizabethan period.
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Overview

This stimulating book discusses the way in which countries acquire their distinctive features and appearance. Focusing on Britain, with its characteristic terraced houses, Georgian squares, postwar slab blocks, and Victorian floral ornamentation, Lubbock traces the fierce debates over consumerism, good design, and town planning that have raged in Britain since the Elizabethan period.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
The Political Economy of Design
Pt. I The Consumer Society 1
Pt. II The Stable Society 19
Preface 21
Ch. 1 The Control of London's Expansion 25
Ch. 2 Seating the Gentry 43
Ch. 3 The Control of Consumption 70
Pt. III The Luxury Debate 87
Preface History and Ideas 89
Ch. 1 The Luxury Debate 1559-1680 92
Ch. 2 Barbon: The Infinite Wants of the Mind 96
Ch. 3 Bernard De Mandeville 100
Ch. 4 The Spectator 109
Ch. 5 David Hume - Commerce and Refinement 115
Ch. 6 Adam Smith 121
Pt. IV Style and Economics 145
Preface 147
Ch. 1 The Early Stuarts 149
Ch. 2 Luxury, Virtue and the Imagination: The Spectator and Pope 179
Ch. 3 Hogarth's Analysis of Beauty 193
Pt. V Good Design 205
Preface 207
Ch. 1 The Encouragement of the Arts of Design in the Eighteenth Century 209
Ch. 2 The Condition of England 226
Ch. 3 Pugin: Preaching Design 233
Ch. 4 Design Reform and the Great Exhibition 248
Ch. 5 The Opponents of Design Reform 271
Ch. 6 John Ruskin: The Political Economy of Design 279
Pt. VI Good Modern Design 297
Preface A Tyranny of Taste? 299
Ch. 1 Modern Leisure and Sumptuary Law 301
Ch. 2 Modern Architecture 326
Ch. 3 Town Planning 333
Ch. 4 Modernist Ideas in Action 349
Pt. VII Conclusion: Plato's Conundrum 363
Notes 370
Index 396
Photographic Credits 413
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2002

    An interdisciplinary tour de force!

    This work by a professor of art history and architecture at the University of Essex in England constitutes a Great Books course in miniature. From the window of his specialties, Jules Lubbock reviews four centuries of political, economic, and social history, delineating their influences ¿ including those of sumptuary laws, or restrictions upon consumption - upon aesthetic concepts of design and town planning, as well as the effects of theological, moral, and nationalistic ideas on the evolving physical appearance of Britain in general and of London in particular. The reader¿s familiarity with Plato and Locke, Disraeli and Bevan, Pugin and Inigo Jones, is extended and made vivid. Discourses on the design of everything from buildings, carpets, and furniture to items as seemingly insignificant as an excessively or inappropriately decorated tea cup, cream jug, or gas lamp are brilliantly analyzed for their larger social and moral implications. Although Professor Lubbock¿s point of view is unmistakably Protestant Episcopalian rather than high-church Anglican Catholic, his nationalism therefore betraying a clear and not atypical though well-compensated bias against Catholicism and Islam, these very British traits nonetheless do not prevent him from depicting and appreciating fully ¿ even celebrating - the ecclesiastical beauty and pervasive influence of classical or Gothic, French (e.g., Pugin) and Italianate art and architecture. The author traces the transfer of power from the landed aristocracy - whose maintenance of magnificent country estates he attributes not to intraclass rivalry but rather to a benign desire and recognized duty to provide hospitality and employment through ¿housekeeping¿ by leading a simple, virtuous life at home in the country in preference to residing in the more appealing, sophisticated, and corrupting milieu of London - to the gentrified commercial classes whose ascendancy resulted from the Industrial Revolution and the concomitant increase of international trade. True to his holistic approach, Professor Lubbock makes frequent references to the reflections of these trends of intellectual history in British philosophy and, especially, literature, citing Shakespeare, Milton, Addison and Steele, Hume, Dickens, and Wordsworth explicitly and novelists such as Fielding, Richardson, Sterne, Smollett, Austen, and Thackeray implicitly ¿ in so doing, incidentally giving the lie to the New Critics¿ foci upon literature in a vacuum and upon ¿universal¿ character development to the exclusion of historical context. The author¿s own book is filled with handome reproductions and illustrations of the works of art and architecture that he so expertly describes, and it contains amusing parables written by some of the renowned personages into whom he breathes renewed vitality and relevance.

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