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Mont-saint-michel And Chartres
by Henry Adams
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The relationship, between reader and writer, of son and father, may have existed in Queen Elizabeth's time, but is much too close to be true for ours. The utmost that any writer could hope of his readers now is that they should consent to regard themselves as nephews, and even then he would expect only a more or less civil refusal from most of them. Indeed, if he had reached a certain age, he would have observed that nephews, as a social class, no longer read at all, and that there is only one familiar instance recorded of a nephew who read his uncle. The exception tends rather to support the rule, since it needed a Macaulay to produce, and two volumes to record it. Finally, the metre does not permit it. One may not say: "Who reads me, when I am ashes, is my nephew in wishes."
This first paperback facsimile of the classic 1913 edition includes thirteen photographs and numerous illustrations of the great cathedrals of Northern France. Henry Adams referred to this book as "A Study of Thirteenth-Century Unity," and its expansive scope, together with the author's deep understanding of the period, makes it a classic in art history as well as in American literature. He wrote, "I wanted to show the intensity of the vital energy of a given time, and of course that intensity had to be stated in its two highest terms--religion and art."
Extended essay by Henry Adams, printed privately in 1904 and commercially in 1913. It is subtitled A Study of Thirteenth-Century Unity. Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres is best considered a companion to the author's autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams (1918). In Chartres, he described the medieval world view as reflected in its cathedrals, which he believed expressed "an emotion, the deepest man ever felt--the struggle of his own littleness to grasp the infinite." Adams was drawn to the ideological unity expressed in Roman Catholicism and symbolized by the Virgin Mary; he contrasted this coherence with the uncertainties of the 20th century.
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