Additional Book Information
Series: Notting Hill Editions
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
From Notting Hill Editions
by Ian Nairn, introduction by Andrew Hussey
Illustrated with the author’s black-and-white snaps of the city, Nairn’s Paris, first published in 1968, shows Ian Nairn’s eye for detail—whether it is stonework on an archway, shadows cast by a railing, or an empty chair in a park. 50 years later, this celebration of the City of Light still captures a place on the cusp of great changes and provides a glimpse of a city that is about to disappear. Here is an idiosyncratic and unpretentious portrait of the “collective masterpiece” that is Paris.
As Nairn writes: “About one-third of the book is discovery, in the sense that I came upon the sites by accident or by following a topographical hunch. There must be many more, and all you need for the search is the ability to turn off the main road, switch on your antennae, and respond. Good luck.”
Click to enlarge images
You could see that Nairn was made of equal parts of amiability and disagreeableness, that he could swoon, but only over the very finest things; that he could take joy in the most ordinary streetscape if it could be shown to make daily life better; and that he could always be counted on to prefer the work of an eccentric genius like Nicholas Hawksmoor over that of a sane and rational architect like Christopher Wren.
—Paul Goldberger, “Books Every Architect Should Read"
It’s not easy to pigeonhole the late English writer Ian Nairn. But after reading his work you might rightly decide that there’s no need to do so. His rubric doesn’t matter because, whatever kind of writer he is, he follows his own meandering counsel, and the results are consistently brilliant.
—James McWilliams, The Millions
To call Ian Nairn a great architectural writer is too restrictive; he was a great writer who happened to write about buildings and places….Cities change, but the quality of Nairn’s writing will always hold. He will take you to unexpected places, make you look at the familiar anew, or at least poke you into thinking about them again.
— N. J. McGarrigle, The Irish Times
As a guide to central Paris it would mostly still serve quite well.
—Ian Brunskill, TLS, August 4, 2017
In Nairn’s Paris the City of Light gets the flâneur it deserves: passionate, bilious, eloquently melancholy. This welcome and overdue re-issue compliments his masterpiece Nairn’s London, confirming his status as our best topographical writer. At his best he has no equal.
Once you discover [Nairn] you want to read everything he’s written.
—The Daily Telegraph