When I first started my exploration, I naturally chose the Architecture Library as Alice’s brain. For the topic of conversation, I settled on Architecture. After I sent Alice the text “villa” and clicked on find I expected to get a lot of search results about books with similar main topics, however, I soon realized that the term “villa” was too generalized, as most search results weren’t about villas but instead just small excerpts of texts listing a specific villa as an example or using villas to compare them to other buildings. I didn’t really find any excerpts that sparked my interests which had villas in general as their main focus point. This prompted me to use the “explore”, instead of the “find” option, but not much has changed for the search results.
I figured I’d have to type in a more specific text to have a proper conversation with Alice, so I tried to break down the title of the book “A collection of designs for rural retreats, as villas. Principally in the Gothic and Castle styles of Architecture”.
The key words that stood out to me the most were “rural retreat”, which is why I chose those words for Alice as well. Changing the topic of conversation from architecture to villa to further narrow it down, I clicked on explore again, which yielded 1000 results. Scrolling through them I still didn’t see any book or excerpt that piqued my interest yet.
Out of curiosity I changed Alice’s brain too, going up through them chronologically.
After switching to Library of Shakespeare’s Friends I saw a book that immediately caught my eye named “The Four Books of Architecture” by Palladio. When I read through the excerpt, I surprisingly found a lot of similarities to the first chapter “Reflections on the necessity and advantage of temporary retirement”. The excerpt “HENCE it was the antient sages commonly used to retire to such like places; where being oftentimes visited by their virtuous friends and relations, having houses, gardens, fountains, and such like pleasant places, and above all, their virtue, they could easily attain to as much happiness as can be attained here below” from Palladio really matches the Atmosphere that is being captured at the beginning of that chapter, when he is discusses the “pure and tranquil retirement of the country” as opposed to the perceived “foetid joys of the tumultuous city” and whether the former will bring more happiness (cmp. p. ii ll. 1-5). Malton also states that “[villas] should be capable of accommodating a few chosen friends with ease and comfort” (p. 15 ll.4-5), showing the same sentiment as in the extract again. So even though these two books don’t have a big overlap, I still chose the Palladio, because I deemed this extract in particular quite fitting for the task.
Being very satisfied with the result, I continued to go through the different libraries, using the same topic of discussion, eventually ending up at the Xenotheka Library, where I found “The Roman Villa in the Mediterranean Basin” by Marzano. I choose this book, because the context revealed the following:
“However, several decades of new archaeological and textual work have shown that the Christian role in the history of the Roman villa was richer and more complex than Cassiodorus’ easy meshing of fishponds with monastic discipline intimates.2 This chapter provides a brief sketch of that history, focusing on the rural villas of the western empire.”.
Since Malton’s book deals with a lot of details regarding villas and half the book consists of sketches of examples that are considered ideal for the design of villas according to the principles he previously provided, I thought this book would share a significant connection to Malton’s as well.