Robert Scott

The Gothic Enterprise

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Chartres Cathedral

Scott (sociology, emeritus, Stanford University) offers an intriguing study of the historical creation of the medieval cathedral in Europe. By not approaching his subject from the usual architectural, art historical, or medieval studies perspectives, he provides a fresh eye and an engaging entre to how and why, for a 300-year period, Europeans created these lasting monuments. The “gothic enterprise” of cathedral building is covered in chapters devoted to the history of cathedral building and a definition of the “gothic look.” Black-and-white illustrations and photographs help elucidate the author's points. Scott also examines the religious experience that generated the will to build the great churches, followed by a concluding chapter on the makeup of the European communities that did the actual work. Based on numerous secondary sources, Scott's readable introduction to the cathedral is a nice follow-up to David Macaulay's classic illustrated work, Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction. Recommended particularly for public libraries with an interest in art and architecture.

- Martin R. Kalfatovic, Smithsonian Institution Libraries, Washington, D.C. (Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.)

Reprinted from “From The Critics”