Modern Architecture

DID YOU KNOW? Perhaps the rarest of Mailer publications is his rebuttal to the response of a major architect, Vincent Scully, to Mailer’s August 1963 “Big Bite” column in Esquire. In that column, Mailer attacks modern architecture for being unimaginative, ugly and totalitarian: “The essence of totalitarianism is that it beheads. It beheads individuality, variety, dissent, extreme possibility, romantic faith; it blinds vision, deadens instinct; it obliterates the past.” Scully replied to Mailer in Architectural Forum (April 1964), and Mailer’s rebuttal appeared with it. This rebuttal, slightly revised, was published in July 1964 by Dolmen Press of Dublin as one leaf folded to make four pages, in an edition of 100 copies. It is titled “Gargoyle, Guignol, False Closet.”

Here is a line from the rebuttal: “I think Le Corbusier and [Frank Lloyd] Wright and all the particular giants of the Bauhaus are the true villains; the Mafia architects are their proper sons.” Mailer detested the blandness and lack of intricate detail in much modern architecture, and preferred stately Edwardian and Queen Anne structures, buildings that demonstrated a sense of the past. More than once he stated his law of college architecture: “The newer the building, the uglier.”
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