In the twelfth century, Christians in Europe began to build a completely new kind of church - soaring, spacious monuments flooded with light from immense windows. These were the first Gothic churches, the crowning example of which was the cathedral of Chartres: a revolution in thought embodied in stone and glass, and a bridge between the ancient and modern worlds.
In Universe of Stone, Philip Ball explains the genesis and development of the Gothic style. He argues that it signified a profound change in the social, intellectual and theological climate of Western Christendom. As the church represented nothing less than a vision of heaven on earth, this shift in architectural style marked the beginning of the argument between faith and reason which continues today, and of a scientific view of the world that threatened to dispense with God altogether.
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[Ball] has a knack for translating difficult concepts into lucid prose: he offers a refreshingly sceptical guided tour of Chartres Cathedral and the intellectual contents that helped produce it - Daily Telegraph
Lucid and resplendent...a model of explanatory writing - Sunday Times
Consistently and healthily sceptical ... an intelligent, enjoyable and well-produced book which deserves a wide audience - Times Literary Supplement
An original and imaginative synthesis of art history and history of science - History Today
Lucid and resplendent - The Times
Riveting - Sunday Telegraph
[A] richly rewarding book - Independent
Illuminating... a masterpiece. The erudition with which Ball imparts his knowledge does nothing to diminish his sense of wonder - Observer
Philip Ball has done something extraordinary here: he's got me interested in cathedrals - Evening Standard
Philip Ball is a freelance writer and a consultant editor for Nature, where he previously worked as an editor for physical sciences. He writes regularly in the scientific and popular media, and his many books on scientific subjects include Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads To Another, which won the 2005 Aventis Prize for Science Books. His latest books include The Music Instinct, Universe of Stone: Chartres Cathedral and the Triumph of the Medieval Mind, and, most recently, Unnatural: The Heretical Idea of Making People. Philip obtained a PhD in physics from the University of Bristol.