A useful manual belonging to the series " Great Buildings and How to Enjoy Them." Furnishes practical hints and contains illustrations of the principal Gothic edifices, with explanatory notes and contains various illustrations.
Author: Edith A. Browne
Company: London: A. and C. Black
This volume will be the first of a series of books whose object is to throw out hints on how to enjoy buildings unless I have made a mistake in believing that a great many people, like myself, are prone to fall in love at first sight with brick and mortar art-work.
I have always felt a keen joy in the art of architecture, and in my opinion, the architect is an artist whose work is as full of expression as that of the most skilled decorator who serves him. In proportion, perspective, line, and mass he visualizes Universal Truths, and seals them so clearly with the stamp of a strong individuality that they stimulate imagination and awaken emotions.
As a child, my favourite playground was the Close in my native city Nature's unrivalled setting, wherein the dazzling beauty of an English cathedral is enhanced by the fields and trees and grassy swards which surround it, and, maybe, by the river which skirts them on this side or that. Why I liked to look at the cathedral I neither knew nor cared; it just pleased me, and children ask neither more nor less of life.
Under the great vaulted roof, I was equally happy and equally indifferent to logic, until I first began to feel that desire to grow up which is the actual starting point of education. Hitherto I had been content to listen to the endless store of fairy tales which the building was ever ready to relate, but now I became more exacting. ' Tell me how you came to be here,' I said to the arches, walls, and columns; ' tell me how you live; tell me something real.' And they answered that there were certain things that I must Preface learn for myself if I wanted to hold converse with them in substance as well as in shadow. Here my trouble began.
No one understood the pet names I had given to every little nook and corner of my cathedral, although to my mind they so exactly described what they meant to me as nicknames always do to the individual who bestows them. But in order to avoid confusion, this must mean this, by general consent, and thai must mean that; and so I had to learn the conventional names for the different parts of the building before I could speak to other people about them and ask questions.
Frequently I received answers to questions that I did not ask, whilst the queries which I actually meant to put forward were ignored; this was due partly to my amateurish way of propounding- ing my difficulties, and partly to the professional ability of those whose aid I sought. I plodded through various ponderous volumes on architecture, and, although I know now how excellent many of them were in their own way, I wished then that I could find someone who would tell me very simply in a few pages what I wanted to know.
Just what I wanted then I have endeavoured to set down in the following pages that, and nothing more; for I feel that there must be many people with a similar desire who have not the time to pick out the essential information from amongst the mass of technicalities in which it is generally embedded. In whatever direction my readers may wish to pursue the study of architecture beyond where I have here gone, they will find much valuable and reliable literature to assist them, and many noble buildings typical of each and every style. But I hope my humble efforts may do something more than drive them to books, or even buildings which tell of the glory of bygone days: I hope they may be led to demand for themselves buildings which shall declare to future generations all that is best in the religious, civic, and domestic life of the present day.
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