Paris ( 1912 ) Travel and History Guide PDF book by Grant Allen With Illustrations

Paris ( 1912 ) Travel and History Guide PDF book by Grant Allen With Illustrations

Travel and History Guide PDF book
Paris Travel Guide

Excerpt from the author's introduction:

the object and plan of this book are somewhat different from that of any other guides at present before the public. It does not compete or clash with such existing works; it is rather intended to supplement than to supplant them.


 My purpose is not to direct the stranger through the streets and squares of an unknown town toward the buildings or sights which he may desire to visit; still, less is it my design to give him practical information about hotels, cab fares, omnibuses, tramways, and other every-day material conveniences. For such details, the traveler must still have recourse to the trusty pages of his Baedeker, his Joanne, or his Murray.


 I desire rather supply the tourist who wishes to use his travel as a means of culture with such historical and antiquarian information as will enable him to understand and therefore enjoy, the architecture, sculpture, painting, and minor arts of the towns he visits. In one word, it is my object to give the reader in a very compendious form the result of all those inquiries which have naturally suggested themselves to my own mind during thirty-five years of foreign travel, the solution of which has cost myself a good deal of research, thought, and labor, beyond the facts which I could find in the ordinary handbooks.


 For several years past I have devoted myself to collecting and arranging material for a book to embody the idea I had thus entertained. I earnestly hope it may meet a want on the part of tourists, especially Americans, who, so far as my experience goes, usually come to Europe with an honest and reverent desire to learn from the Old World whatever of value it has to teach them, and who are prepared to take any amount of pains in turning their trip to good account which is both rare and praiseworthy. For such readers, I shall call attention at times to other sources of information. The general plan pursued will be somewhat as follows.


First will come to the inquiry why the town ever gathered together at all at that particular spot — what induced the aggregation of human beings rather there than elsewhere. Next, we shall consider why the town grew to social or political importance and what were the stages by which it assumed its present shape. Thirdly, we shall ask why it gave rise to that higher form of handicraft which we know as Art, and toward what particular arts it especially gravitated. After that, we shall take in detail the various strata of its growth or development, examining the buildings and works of art which they contain in historical order, and, as far as possible, tracing the causes which led to their evolution. In particular, we shall lay stress upon the origin and meaning of each structure as an organic whole, and upon the allusions or symbols which its fabric embodies.

Paris ( 1912 ) Travel and History Guide


A single instance will show the method upon which I intend to proceed better than any amount of general description. A church, as a rule, is built over the body or relics of a particular saint, in whose special honor it was originally erected. That saint was usually one of great local importance at the moment of its erection or was peculiarly implored against plague, foreign enemies, or some other pressing and dreaded misfortune. In dealing with such a church, then, I endeavor to show what were the circumstances which led to its erection, and what memorials of these circumstances it still retains. In other cases, it may derive its origin from some special monastic body — Benedictine, Dominican, Franciscan — and may, therefore, be full of the peculiar symbolism and historical allusion of the order who founded it. Wherever I have to deal with such a church, I try as far as possible to exhibit the effect which its origin had upon its architecture and decoration; to trace the image of the patron saint in sculpture or stained glass throughout the fabric; and to set forth the connection of the whole design with time and place, with order and purpose. In short, instead of looking upon monuments of the sort mainly as the product of this or that architect, I look upon them rather as material embodiments of the spirit of the age, — crystallisations, as it were, in stone and bronze, in form and color, of great popular enthusiasms. By thus concentrating attention on what is essential and important in a town,


I hope to give in a comparatively short space, though with inevitable conciseness, a fuller account than is usually given of the chief architectural and monumental works of the principal art-cities. I shall have little to say about such modern constructions as the Champs Elysees or the Eiffel Tower; still less, of course, about the Morgue, the Catacombs, the waxworks of the Musee Grevin, and the celebrated Excursion in the Paris Sewers. The space thus saved from vulgar wonders I shall hope to devote to a fuller explanation of Notre-Dame and the Sainte Chapelle, of the medieval carvings or tapestries of Cluny, and of the pictures or sculptures in the Louvre. The passing life of the moment does not enter into my plan; I regard the town mainly as a museum of its own history.


Author: Grant Allen  Publication Date:1912
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