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Individual and collective found in the city

letters

It is a shame Will Alsop's cultural interests are not as broad as his travels (AJ 27.3.03).

To condemn streets, squares, boulevards, piazzas and avenues for presupposing that they are 'people places' reveals an ignorance of great 19th and early 20th-century novels. Dostoyevsky, Stendhal, Proust and Kafka - the list is impulsive, not exclusive - show how the traditional city and the apartment on the street can be the loneliest places in the world for those who don't share the values of the rest of the citizens.

That is the strength of the traditional city: it accommodates both isolation and gregariousness.

IR, from a flat-pack melamine computer table in a suburban '60s semi-detached in the South West.

Ian Robertson, Salisbury

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