Universe of Stone: Chartres Cathedral and the Invention of the Gothic

Overview

Chartres Cathedral, south of Paris, is revered as one of the most beautiful and profound works of art in the Western canon. But what did it mean to those who constructed it in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries—and why was it built at such immense height and with such glorious play of light, in the soaring manner we now call Gothic?

In this eminently fascinating work, author Philip Ball makes sense of the visual and emotional power of Chartres and brilliantly explores how its ...

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Universe of Stone

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Overview

Chartres Cathedral, south of Paris, is revered as one of the most beautiful and profound works of art in the Western canon. But what did it mean to those who constructed it in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries—and why was it built at such immense height and with such glorious play of light, in the soaring manner we now call Gothic?

In this eminently fascinating work, author Philip Ball makes sense of the visual and emotional power of Chartres and brilliantly explores how its construction—and the creation of other Gothic cathedrals—represented a profound and dramatic shift in the way medieval thinkers perceived their relationship with their world. Beautifully illustrated and written, filled with astonishing insight, Universe of Stone embeds the magnificent cathedral in the culture of the twelfth century—its schools of philosophy and science, its trades and technologies, its politics and religious debates—enabling us to view this ancient architectural marvel with fresh eyes.

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Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
“A lively biography of Chartres Cathedral. . . . Ball’s account of its construction reveals fascinating details . . . and evokes its raison d’être.”
Christian Science Monitor
“A terrific book…A lucid, thoughtful tour de force…A fascinating book with important insights and observations on every page.”
Los Angeles Times
“Lively...Ball puts the fun back in medieval scholasticism...seems as much at ease on the medieval building site as in an abbey library.”
Wall Street Journal
“There is no better general introduction to the subject... [Ball’s] account is bold and plausible.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061154300
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/28/2009
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,215,458
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Ball's book Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; his Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another won the UK's Aventis Prize. He is a consulting editor for Nature magazine, and he lives in London.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vii

Introduction 1

1 The Isle Rises Chartres in the Kingdom of France 8

2 A Change of Style The Invention of Gothic 23

3 Heaven on Earth What is a Cathedral? 52

4 Seek Not to Know High Things Faith and Reason in the Middle Ages 69

5 Building by Numbers Science and Geometry at the School of Chartres 100

6 Masters of Works The Men Who Planned the Cathedrals 136

7 Hammer and Stone Medieval Masons 170

8 Underneath the Arches House of Forces 193

9 Holy Radiance The Metaphysics of Light 233

10 Hard Labour How the Cathedral Rose 256

11 A New Beginning The First Renaissance 281

Architectural Glossary 292

Notes 296

Bibliography 309

Index 317

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