We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I refer to Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth, which I have just finished. It ain't littercher, but it's an absorbing read. He is a master storyteller and permits no let-up of tension.
It's in the historical fiction genre, set during the Civil War of 1139-1153. That war of succession was prompted, you may recall, by the foundering of the White Ship with William, the only legitimate son of Henry l, on board.
The book does a good job of putting you in a time and place. The gravitational center of the book is the building of cathedrals during the time when pointed arches and ribbed ceilings were first used, and when it was realized that pillars could support the weight of the buildings without relying on thick walls, thus permitting large windows.
Has mankind ever built anything to match the grace and artistry and grandeur of a gothic cathedral?
As I was reading the book, I kept wishing I could find our copy of David Macaulay's Cathedral. It's here somewhere...
If you are interested in a well written and beautiful book on the art, architecture, and history of Europe's great cathedrals, I highly recommend "Cathedrals of Europe" by Anne Prache (Emeritas Professor of Art History, University of Paris (Sorbonne))
It is well written and readable, though there are a couple of editorial problems with captions to the plates, which I think happened during translation from the French. Many of the plates are photographs taken exclusively for the book (as opposed to using available stock photography).
Another possibility is "Great Cathedrals" by Bernhard Schultz (Professor of Architectural History, University of Munich). Not as much history and analysis, but a hugh number of excellent plates.
Next time you drive through Europe look for the secondary route that leads to Chartres. It comes to the cathedral from a plateau. Suddenly, it appears on the horizon. Coming at it from this direction allows you to have some understanding as to the impact this great building had on anyone approaching during the middle times. Powerful impact.
The sequel to Pillars Of The Earth, World Without End, has just been released this past fall. Haven't read it, but I may need to re-read POTE to refresh my memory.
For those interested in historical fiction, I would suggest the Baroque Cycle, by Neal Stephenson, and if you like that, his Cryptonomicon is a good read (and related). The Cycle deals with the 17th century and all the political, philosophic (scientific) and economic turmoil if that era - great fun! Cryptonomicon is set in the days of WWII and present day, with connections back to the Cycle.
I've tried to start the Baroque Cycle three times. I love it but haven't been able to keep up with it. There's just to much real baroque stuff going on right now for me, to be able to concentrate on the fictional... heh!
My wife just read that book. The best thing about it was that she became interested in the politics of period. So Iintroduced her to Peter O'Toole by renting 'Beckett' and 'The Lion in Winter.' Classics both.
right -- the flying buttresses are only 'arch' like on the underside, and as decor or ornament -- the real deal is the 45 degree straight member transferring load from tall wall to basically a post in the ground out away from the actual walls. They aren't walls, they're exoskeleton, angled beams with air underneath -- thus ''flying''.
with its clean geometric shapes. The exterior is fairly original, with the exception of the Romanesque revival west end. The interior unfortunately has been redone on several occasions, having been burnt by the French at least twice in the 18th century....