Books

Death and Architecture

ISBN: 9780750928779
Author(s): James Stevens Curl
Format: hardback
Year published: 2002
Publisher: Sutton Publishing
Publisher Location: Stroud, Gloucestershire
Total Pages: 448
Illustrations: Illustrated in black and white throughout

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Funerary monuments – whether the pyramids of ancient Egypt, the chambered cairns of prehistoric Orkney or the Canadian War Memorial at Vimy Ridge – are among the most potent architectural monuments. Bearing witness to our uneasy acknowledgement of mortality and our desire to remember those who have died, tombs and monuments are often among the finest structures erected by man. The subjects of funerary architecture, of commemorative structures and of cemeteries have suffered a curious neglect at the hands of writers until fairly recently, and it is James Stevens Curl’s work that is partly responsible for arousing a new interest in them. In a wide-ranging and stimulating survey, Professor Curl explores the extraordinary legacy of funerary monuments from ancient Egypt to modern town planners’ schemes for twenty-storey tower-blocks for the storage of coffins and urns (not a bad idea when we consider how inappropriate are tower-blocks as dwellings for the living). As much a commentary on attitudes to death as a history of architecture, Death and Architecture reveals many hidden wonders and beauties throughout the world. A fascinating and unusual book, it will be treasured by all who agree with George Crabbe’s line ‘But monuments themselves memorials need’.

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