Cover image for Sir John Vanbrugh: The Playwright as Architect By Frank McCormick

Sir John Vanbrugh

The Playwright as Architect

Frank McCormick

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$69.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-00723-6

206 pages
6" × 9"
23 b&w illustrations
1991

Sir John Vanbrugh

The Playwright as Architect

Frank McCormick

McCormick's study is the first to show the interrelation of Vanbrugh's seemingly disparate careers as architect and dramatist. Perhaps because his talent embraced two diverse disciplines, Sir John Vanbrugh has received less critical attention that his achievements deserve. Vanbrugh wrote or adapted ten comedies (The Relapse and The Provoked Wife proving the most successful) and designed a host of country houses of which the best known are Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard. In fact, no one built grander or more controversial country homes than Vanbrugh.McCormick challenges the previous critical studies of Vanbrugh that have concentrated on either his architectural of his playwriting career to the exclusion of the other. He reveals the role of Vanbrugh's life in his works, especially his experience as a hostage in France, arguing that Blenheim Palace and The Relapse and many other of his buildings and plays are linked by their creator's preoccupation with the notion of the "citadel in danger." He examines the sources of Vanbrugh's building style and demonstrates the essential continuity of his dramatic and architectural practice, a continuity stemming from his use of a distinctive body of combat and siege imagery in both his dramatic and architectural vocabularies.

 

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McCormick's study is the first to show the interrelation of Vanbrugh's seemingly disparate careers as architect and dramatist. Perhaps because his talent embraced two diverse disciplines, Sir John Vanbrugh has received less critical attention that his achievements deserve. Vanbrugh wrote or adapted ten comedies (The Relapse and The Provoked Wife proving the most successful) and designed a host of country houses of which the best known are Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard. In fact, no one built grander or more controversial country homes than Vanbrugh.McCormick challenges the previous critical studies of Vanbrugh that have concentrated on either his architectural of his playwriting career to the exclusion of the other. He reveals the role of Vanbrugh's life in his works, especially his experience as a hostage in France, arguing that Blenheim Palace and The Relapse and many other of his buildings and plays are linked by their creator's preoccupation with the notion of the "citadel in danger." He examines the sources of Vanbrugh's building style and demonstrates the essential continuity of his dramatic and architectural practice, a continuity stemming from his use of a distinctive body of combat and siege imagery in both his dramatic and architectural vocabularies.

Frank McCormick is Professor of English at Eastern Illinois University and author of the the forthcoming Sir John Vanbrugh: A Reference Guide (G.K. Hall).

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