Gothic Revival (Phaidon Art and Ideas) By Chris Brooks

    The short of it: this is a perfectly canonical history of the gothic revival. I think if you took a course on this topic, this book probably contains everything you would learn. That being said, it has some stronger areas and some weaker ones, and needs to be supplemented to gain a more clear and nuanced understanding of the topic.
    Brooks' wheelhouse is clear: the Gothic revival in ecclesiastical architecture from the late eighteenth-century to the mid-nineteenth in Britain, France, and Germany. The chapters which focus on this are the most clear, most thorough, and most supported of the book. However, the further you get from these principles (of time period, medium, and geography) the more vague, generalized, and unsupported the paragraphs become.
    The treatment of non-architectural gothic (in metalwork, furniture, jewelry, etc.) is vague, and ignores any evolution or stylistic variation in these mediums in favor of generalizations. The treatment of colonial Gothic is perfunctory (at one point, Brooks states without evidence that colonial clergy were often active in defending the interests of native populations. Citation needed, sir.) The chapters on the late-nineteenth century became very hard to follow as Brooks relied less on textual sources and more on confusing observations and grandiose statements (the sentence that has burned itself behind my eyelids is The whole trouble with logic is that having arrived at an answer there is nowhere else to go. Brooks, what the hell does that mean? Also, what is the muscularity of the gothic that you keep talking about?)
    Let us not forget the obligatory tacked-on chapter about goths that architectural historians always seem to struggle with. It would basically be a bad Wikipedia article except for Brooks' insistence on including the sentence that had me rolling in my chair laughing: However Goths might fear global technologies - doubtless preferring older magic - they have taken to the Internet with a will. What does that mean?? Chris Brooks A splendid survey of the gothic revival that expertly traces the thread of Gothic, at all times an architecture, literary style, and political spirit, from Vasari's association of medieval architectural style with the Rome sacking barbarians, to the reaction against rationalism and academic classism, to its dualistic allegiance to both Catholics and Protestants, the Victorian age, all the way to the lugubrious black-dressed creeps at my high school. The narrative gets a bit convoluted at times given the competing interests (Catholic/Protestant, constitutional/monarchial, capitalist/socialist) that claimed it's patrimony, especially during the Victorian period, but this book is a feat of synthesis that weaves innumerable details into a discernable picture, somewhat unstructured, but fittingly not unlike the movement itself: labyrinthian, contradictory, reactive, and nostalgic. Chris Brooks It's an interesting supplement to seeing the items in the book in person. Chris Brooks

    At the height of the Victorian period, a craze for Gothic style swept England and spread far beyond. Gothic architecture, associated with the social and cultural ideals of the Middle Ages, was seen as a means of remaking the modern world. In this exposition, Chris Brooks unravels the layers of meaning that Gothic held for its many reinventors: from the political uses of Gothic history in the 17th century to Barry and Pugin's Houses of Parliament in the mid-19th century. Yet Gothic is not just buildings: continually recreated, it has taken the form of poetry and fiction, of painting and sculpture, of movies and video games, of Gothic music and Gothic punk. Gothic became a dominant cultural and architectural force not only in 19th-century Britain, but across Europe, in the United States and in the countries of the British Empire. It is still pervasive. This book deals comprehensively with the whole scope of the Gothic Revival. Gothic Revival (Phaidon Art and Ideas)

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