Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Friday, February 2, 2007

i've been reading a fascinating book by norman f cantor about the late middle ages, and one prominent figure in particular.

unfortunately, dr cantor suggests that the cathedral at cologne is hideous and overwrought and exactly the kind of cathedral this age deserves.

he couldn't be more wrong. the cathedral at cologne is an intricate thing, like a faberge egg zapped with an enlargement ray. each little corner carries the holiness of a saint, of sacrifice, of human suffering. a thousand carvers dedicated their lives to serving god and building this cathedral that survived allied bombing because of it's excellent, sturdy walls and buttresses. the carvers that burned their life away in the service of god carved imagery of saints that burned their life away (sometimes quite violently) in the service of god.

anyway, i think the cathedral is overwhelming and beautiful.

many reviewers of this particular text also spend a great deal of energy dissing how this text is not a "real" history book due to the footloose, conversational approach dr cantor uses to make his argument. i've read my share of medieval history books, and find one that isn't a long string of footnoted "infodumps" refreshing.

the real main character of this story isn't john of gaunt, though. this is norman cantor's raw personality letting us listen in on him boring his wife to tears in his study. i found it fun.

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