The author presents the book as a literary game, a joke, or a pastime, but these two dozen accounts of the circumstances in which important architects died are actually exquisite miniatures combining critical intelligence, biographical erudition, and narrative skill. Taking as a model in each case a different literary work – evoking its style, sometimes reproducing passages –, Hernández Correa goes through the history of architecture using the deaths of many of its protagonists as milestones. From Cain, the first builder of cities, naturally coined in the mold of the Bible, to the much mourned Enric Miralles, whose early death is remembered with the Exercises in Style of Queneau which inspire the volume, through its pages march the likes of Michelangelo, Sinan, Borromini, or Ledoux, but also Gaudí, Terragni, Le Corbusier, or Kahn, in a sequence of often tragic demises where perhaps the only one missing is the murder of Stanford White, the extravagant partner in McKim, Mead & White. The literary texts are equally suggestive, and if for Daedalus the chosen reference is Sophocles’s Antigone, or for Apollodorus of Damascus it is Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian, Sant’Elia is linked to Marinetti’s The Futurist Manifesto, Louis Sullivan to Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, Mackintosh to Joyce’s Dubliners, and Aizpurúa to Cela’s San Camilo 1936.
Illustrated with drawings by the author’s sister, which playfully quote period images, the book is a pleasure to read and very well written: another small jewel from its publisher.
José Ramón Hernández Correa
Ediciones Asimétricas, Madrid, 2014