the Crescent

Category: Places | Type: Historical | Title: Northanger Abbey (in Context) | Author: Jane Austen | Ch: Chapter 5

They will enjoy the open, park-like grounds of the Royal Crescent, completed in 1774. Designed by John Wood the Younger, the Crescent is a large half-circle of thirty private but barely distinguishable individual homes facing upon a large, manicured green.

The Crescent is one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture's elegant simplicity of line and ornament applied to multiple residences, no one of which is to stand out. The collective is emphasized over the individual, which is submerged in and benefits from the ideal proportions and harmonies of the totality. This is an aesthetic with clear political overtones that returns us to the debate over the individual versus the public self. 

A legend, this version from the ancient Roman republic, describes a dying father who calls his sons to his bedside to bestow upon some final words. He asks them to take the bound quiver of arrows he hands them and to break it. Each tries, without success. The father then unties the bound arrows and hands each son and arrow, which he then snaps with ease.


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