The Final Testament of Père Corbu

A Translation and Interpretation of Mise au point by Ivan Zaknic

Le Corbusier; Edited by Ivan Zaknic

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Le Corbusier, the most influential architect of the twentieth century, died in 1965 only weeks after completing Mise au point, his last opus in the form of antobiographical reflections. Published posthumously, Mise au point is a curious and cryptic text, yet it sheds an important light on the great artist’s mind and temperament. This book is the first English translation of Mise au point, the first illustrated critical bilingual edition, and the first attempt to integrate this document into Le Corbusier’s life as a whole, especially its final embittered years.

In an insightful introduction and in annotations, Ivan Zaknic shows how the themes of the text echo the contradictions of Le Corbusier’s personality: determined to rebuke society and yet constantly courting its approval; devoted to serving the public and yet returning again and again to a solitary monastic ideal; distrusting professional institutions, the academy, and the government and yet stung by their willingness to pass him by. Zaknic links the themes of this text with Le Corbusier’s passion for certain literary works, especially Don Quixote, and emphasizes the architect’s many philosophical formulas for coming to terms with death—first that of his beloved wife and then his own. Illustrated with photos and drawings, many of which appear here for the first time, and also including a revealing interview granted by Le Corbusier in the final months of his life, the volume will be welcomed by all students of Le Corbusier’s art, architecture, and urban planning, as well as by those interested in modernism and twentieth-century culture.

Ivan Zaknic is professor of architecture at Lehigh University. He is also the editor and translator of Le Corbusier’s Journey to the East.

"Le Corbusier’s text provides fundamental insight into the mind of a great artist at the end of his life and depicts, in surprising stark hues, his humility, modesty, frankness, commitment, pessimism, and redeeming sense of irony."—Kenneth Frampton, Columbia University

"A well annotated translation of 'Mise au Point', a rag-bag of the master's 'last words' before his death by drowning in his beloved Mediterranean."—Neil Parkyn, Architects Journal

"[An] illuminating volume on Père Corbu's architectural and philosophical reflections during the last year of his life."—Times Literary Supplement

"[This book] sheds an important light on the great artist’s mind and temperament. This represents the first English translation of Mise au point, the first illustrated critical bilingual edition, and the first attempt to integrate this document into Le Corbusier’s life as a whole."—Translation Review

ISBN: 9780300063530
Publication Date: August 25, 1997
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