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Eccentric Spaces

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Review: by Robert Harbison.MIT Press, 2000. 177pp. £9.50

First published in 1977, this long out-of-print precursor to Robert HarbisonOs The Built, the Unbuilt and the Unbuildable and Thirteen Ways is now re-issued in a paperback edition. As in those later books, Harbison's 'take' on architecture, built or imagined, is idiosyncratic but immensely seductive in its insights and chains of association. Gardens, maps, catalogues and novels figure alongside Venetian campi, small Sicilian towns and the gigantist fantasies of Etienne-Louis Boullee;

Kafka rubs shoulders with Conan Doyle; while the text is studded with aphorisms ('Travellers should only read after dark.'). 'This is the record of a struggle to assimilate more and more to the realm of delight, ' says Harbison; it contains unsuspected delights for its readers.

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