Vintage £9.99 (326pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 0870 079 8897
Universe of Stone, By Philip Ball
Friday 01 May 2009
This richly rewarding book explores the irony of how the devout medieval mind laid the basis for modern secularity. Using Chartres cathedral as a supreme example of the Gothic style, Ball explains that the soaring architecture – so otherworldly compared to "squat and gloomy" Romanesque – "encodes a renunciation of our poor, drab and degenerate world".
Scotching theories of numerology and "sacred geometry", Ball insists that Chartres represents a "comprehensible cosmos". The rationalist philosophy behind this grand design was stated in the 12th century by Adelard of Bath: "Only when human knowledge fails utterly should there be recourse to God."
Final Top Gear reviewTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Should Apple buy Greece?
- 2 Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
- 3 Drummer Lee Rigby's family reject 'extremist' groups using Woolwich murder for political gain
- 4 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 5 Fox News anchor asks 'what's to prevent' three people from marrying after same-sex marriage legalised
Lionel Richie at Glastonbury 2015, review: Like the anti-Kanye he delights in audience engagement
Glastonbury 2015: Lionel Richie attracts festival's biggest crowds for Sunday's 'dad slot'
Glastonbury 2015: The best things you missed from Lionel Richie and the Dalai Lama to how beautiful the festival is
Glastonbury 2015: Shocking scenes of rubbish left strewn across campsite as clean-up begins
Glastonbury 2015: The Who take swipe at Kanye West - 'who's the biggest rock star in the world?'
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Austerity is essential if Britain wants to reduce inequality – why can't the left-wingers who march against it realise this?
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says
David Cameron struck double blow in his hopes to win Britain a new EU deal