The Introduction uses a major source from the beginning of the period—Sir Christopher Wren’s Letter from Paris of 1665—to introduce the key themes of the book. In particular, the Introduction discusses the recourse to an intellectual-historical method in order to rethink major themes in English architectural culture at the time. It also explains the makeup of architectural knowledge in the period and justifies the book’s focus on aesthetic knowledge rather than practical. Finally, it uses seventeenth-century sources to formulate an appropriate definition of classical architecture (on which this book is exclusively focused). The Introduction concludes with a summary of the ensuing chapters and a proposition that architecture was among the most serious and important of all intellectual pursuits in a formative period in English intellectual history.
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