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The Gothic Cathedral – Origins of Gothic Architecture and the Medieval Concept of Order (Anglais) Broché – 1 juillet 1992

5.0 étoiles sur 5 1 commentaire client

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Book by Von Simson Otto Georg

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Format: Broché
There aren't many books available looking at the phenomenon or idea of the Gothic Cathedral as a whole, and few of those are generally accessible reading. There are countless books on particular cathedrals and churches - Notre Dame, Salisbury Cathedral, Chartes, the Abbey of St. Denis. There are other books that look at particular aspects of the architecture or function; particular books on flying buttresses, stained-glass windows, and such are also numerous.
This third edition of Otto von Simon's book (originally published in 1956, updated in 1962 and again in 1987) looks at the Gothic Cathedral as a whole from many different standpoints - architecture, artistic value, spiritual value, economic value and influence, functional and practical concerns. 'The cathedral,' Simson wrote in his first preface, 'was designed as an image, and was meant to be understood as one.' Simson is direct in his admiration of Gothic style, calling Gothic architecture 'perhaps the most creative achievement in the history of Western architecture'. It is indeed hard to find rivals to this claim.
The Gothic Cathedral, according to Simson, is the earthly representation of supernatural reality. It is a physical manifestation of the theological ideas and aspirations of the Middle Ages. However, Gothic has become a bit too commonplace in some respects - being at the centre of many European and North American cities and towns, it also suffers from being seen as a relic more appropriately the object of archaeological examination than current appreciation.
Simson highlights many of the aspects of Gothic architecture, including the use of light in new, unparalleled ways, and the relationship between structure and appearance.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5 9 commentaires
1 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 ... contains rare information about the philosophy of building the great cathedrals. 16 août 2014
Par Real Revival - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This book contains rare information about the philosophy of building the great cathedrals.
8 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Misleading Title - a Thesis, not an Overview 15 juin 2011
Par Evenor - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This is not a general introduction or overview text, as the title suggests but a thesis that with about two Gothic structures only: Suger's St.Denis abbey church in Paris and Notre-Dame de Chartres cathedral. These two structures appear only to serve the writer's thesis: that medieval christian aesthetics are light and harmoneous geometry with harmonic ratios. The pictures in this book are B&W concetrated in the middle and offer no advantage on what you could find on the internet or other books.
To conclude, this book is for academicals and scholars and not for the general audience. For an introduction to Gothic architecture I suggest Christopher Wilson's "The Gothic Cathedral" (with only B&W pictures unfortunately, but still, they are many and are very illustrative) or Ralf's Thoman "Gothic" with many colored photoes.

Reviewed by Zachi Evenor
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 In-depth examination of the ideas behind the Gothic cathedral 5 décembre 2014
Par farington - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I'd visited numerous French Gothic cathedrals and read a few "overview" books before buying this book, which gives one an understanding and appreciation of the cathedrals at a much deeper level. You learn that the stained glass windows aren't just beautiful, they embody the notion of light as an organizing principle of the universe; and the bulding doesn't just have nice balance, it was designed in accordance with principles of cosmic geometric proportion. I liked von Simson's observations that modern man may not be capable of as profound an architectural expression as the Gothic cathedral because of the relatively trivial program requirements of modern buildings. The program of the Gothic cathedral, according to von Simson, was nothing less than to allow the worshippers to experience the eternal City of God.

I read this book prior to a recent trip to France. It's true that von Simson's discussion focuses primarily on St. Denis and Chartres, and the book greatly enhanced my understanding of those places when I visited them; but I found his discussion of their underlying Dionysian/Neoplatonic theories to be applicable to other cathedrals as well (e.g. the wonderful light in the cathedral in Tours). I found myself spending hours in each cathedral savoring the details I'd come to appreciate from having read this book. It's not a bright and breezy general introduction to Gothic cathedrals, but it's the book you should read to get below the surface and truly grasp what the Gothic cathedral is about.
41 internautes sur 41 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam 12 septembre 2005
Par FrKurt Messick - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
There aren't many books available looking at the phenomenon or idea of the Gothic Cathedral as a whole, and few of those are generally accessible reading. There are countless books on particular cathedrals and churches - Notre Dame, Salisbury Cathedral, Chartes, the Abbey of St. Denis. There are other books that look at particular aspects of the architecture or function; particular books on flying buttresses, stained-glass windows, and such are also numerous.

This third edition of Otto von Simon's book (originally published in 1956, updated in 1962 and again in 1987) looks at the Gothic Cathedral as a whole from many different standpoints - architecture, artistic value, spiritual value, economic value and influence, functional and practical concerns. 'The cathedral,' Simson wrote in his first preface, 'was designed as an image, and was meant to be understood as one.' Simson is direct in his admiration of Gothic style, calling Gothic architecture 'perhaps the most creative achievement in the history of Western architecture'. It is indeed hard to find rivals to this claim.

The Gothic Cathedral, according to Simson, is the earthly representation of supernatural reality. It is a physical manifestation of the theological ideas and aspirations of the Middle Ages. However, Gothic has become a bit too commonplace in some respects - being at the centre of many European and North American cities and towns, it also suffers from being seen as a relic more appropriately the object of archaeological examination than current appreciation.

Simson highlights many of the aspects of Gothic architecture, including the use of light in new, unparalleled ways, and the relationship between structure and appearance. Stained glass windows, according to Simson, 'are structurally and aesthetically not openings in the wall to admit light, but transparent walls.' Gothic also took advantage of advances in design and building materials to emphasise verticality beyond what earlier architectural forms could do. This together with the sense of geometric precision and orderliness made the Gothic church a reflection of heaven. Simson develops Augustine's idea of architecture and music as enjoyments of transcendence, 'since both are children of number; they have equal dignity, inasmuch as architecture mirrors eternal harmony, as music echoes it.'

In addition to talking about the aesthetic principles of Gothic style, Simson develops the political and social history out of which it emerged. He gives an extended biography of Abbot Suger of St. Denis, in most regards the father of the Gothic style. Simson shows the competing ideas political and religious in the world, as well as the different influences and forces at work on Suger. 'Suger undertook the rebuilding of his church in order to implement his master plan in the sphere of politics. His vision as a stateman imposed itself upon the architectural project; he conceived it as the monumental expression of that vision.' This place was to be thought of in the same regard as Jerusalem, Constantinople and Rome. However, this political vision was far from the only image for Suger, for such an image most likely would not have endured. Simson explores the various aesthetical and practical influences upon Suger, what prompted him to make the decisions he did, and what came to be the birthplace of Gothic churches.

Simson explores other structures as well - most notably, he concentrates on the cathedral of Chartes as one of the principle examples of high Gothic style. This discussion not only examines the building and design aspects, but also the economic aspects of the community of Chartes and surrounding areas and how this impacted the building of the great cathedral, and vice versa. Of Chartes, Simson says we may 'well define it as a "model" of the cosmos as the Middle Ages perceived it. But this "model" was ontologically transparent. It reflected an ultimate reality.'

The book contains 52 black-and-white plates with pictures and graphics, and 8 text figures as line-art drawings. It has sections of addenda and a postscript of revisions of earlier editions. There is a very extensive bibliography for further research, and a reasonable index. The book itself is footnoted throughout, many of the footnotes being rather substantial. This is not a 'popular' book, and is written in an academic style. However, the content is so intriguing that that is a minor consideration. My one wish for the text would be that there were colour pictures or plates included with the text.

This is a very interesting and worthwhile text, good for anyone interested in the history of architecture, Gothic design, cathedrals and worship spaces, and the intersection of faith and the physical world.
1 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Explains Some of the 'Why's' Behind Cathedral Design 11 janvier 2015
Par Loyd Eskildson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Every medieval church was an evocation of the heavenly Jerusalem, the abode of the saved to be established completion of the Last Judgment. The cruciform plan came from the cross, a sign of Christ's triumph - predicted to appear in heaven at the end of the world. Since antiquity the circle and sphere, by virtue of having no beginning and no end, were associated with eternity; hence arches and vaults (part-circular or part-spherical) rising high over our heads also serve as symbols of heaven. Successions of many identical or near-identical bays conveys an evocation of heaven's infinite vastness. Arches and vaults also were seen as presenting innumerable small heavens.

Roman and Gothic architects realized that apses were more stable than long, straight walls and less in need of reinforcement to resist lateral thrusts from high vaults. Adding extra top weight above a buttress further stabilizes it. Large entry doors offer entry to be saved.

The one drawback to this book - difficult to read.
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