Letters - Classic misunderstanding

Rachel Aspden's comparison of Alain de Botton's book with Prince Charles's ideas about modern architecture (Books, 15 May) seems exaggerated and inappropriate. Prince Charles's support of a new architecture is a serious cultural critique. His support for a classical revival in modern building shows him to be perfectly in tune with the need, felt in the fields of (new) architecture, painting and music, to come up with a fertile and imaginative idea after almost a century of modernism that has - for many people, not all of them "reactionary" - done much damage to the public sphere.

De Botton's snobbery is indeed distasteful; to refer to the prince's efforts in this context is just as distasteful, and greatly misleading. Not everybody who sympathises with a classically oriented style, be it in architecture, painting or music, is for that reason a reactionary snob, or unaware of the realities of modern life.

John Borstlap

Amsterdam, Netherlands

This article first appeared in the 22 May 2006 issue of the New Statesman, Heroes of our time - the top 50