Universe of Stone: Chartres Cathedral and the Triumph of the Medieval Mind Paperback – 30 Apr 2009
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"[Ball] has a knack for translating difficult concepts into lucid prose: he offers a refreshingly sceptical guided tour of Chartres Cathedral and the intellectual contents that helped produce it" (Daily Telegraph)
"Lucid and resplendent...a model of explanatory writing" (John Carey Sunday Times)
"Consistently and healthily sceptical ... an intelligent, enjoyable and well-produced book which deserves a wide audience" (Times Literary Supplement)
"An original and imaginative synthesis of art history and history of science" (History Today)
"Lucid and resplendent" (The Times)
'lucid, resplendent book'See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Yet overall the book is missing something. it isn't exactly a guidebook to Chartres, as other reviewers point out and as Ball himself straightforwardly acknowledges. But there is a strange lack of the actual physical object that is Chartres Cathedral. And there is no sense that this is a living church still, with services and parishioners and so on, and Ball's sneering contempt for what isn't High Gothic in the Cathedral grates a little.
By the way the Amazon price is a snip!
Whilst I am not sure that one can really understand the medieval mind from a modern view point, the technicalities of the problems of construction in those times can be appreciated.
Clearly an enormous amount of work has been done by the author to try an establish all of the above. Having visited Chartres in the past I just had to read all about that wonderful Cathredral.
The book is well written in a clear style even for the uninitiated.
The author describes the latter briskly, including an interesting discussion of the conflict between Bernard of Clairvaux and Peter Abelard, which is taken to be an example - very roughly - of the struggle between faith and reason. In the same context, he also mentions the chancellors of the school at Chartres, beginning with Bernard of Chartres, who provided (p108) "[the] vivid image of how knowledge progresses by building on its antecedents. 'We are dwarfs on the shoulders of giants,' he said, 'so we perceive more things than they do'". This remark was of course later appropriated by Isaac Newton (not to mention Oasis), and it's used in the stained glass windows in the South Transept of the cathedral, which depict the four (rather scrawny-looking) evangelists sitting on the shoulders of four Old Testament prophets.
A similar degree of erudition is exhibited throughout the book - perhaps most divertingly when he refers to a chap described as (p240) "the early Christian Neo-Platonist Pseudo-Dyonisius", an appellation that looks like a bit of a mouthful but which is fully justified and explained.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is clearly written and succinct. It gives a very good overview of the philosophical and theological debates of the Middle Ages and their impact on the general culture,... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Paul Jeffels
This book tries to approach Chartres and its builders as a neutral, modern and 'scientific' observer. Read morePublished 19 months ago by G
Chartes and it's stone tells us so much about the development of worship and venues for same. I highly recommend it.Published on 30 Nov. 2012 by Kevin J. Kearney
An excellent book both from the terms of the architecture and structure of the Cathedral, together with the philosophy of the age that led to the constructions of such wonderful... Read morePublished on 4 July 2012 by Admers
ball has written a book on not just the church but about medieval history, scholasticism, masonry etc. Read morePublished on 29 Oct. 2011 by sanyata
ball has written a book on not just the church but about medieval history, scholasticism, masonry etc. Read morePublished on 30 July 2011 by sanyata
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