Westminster Abbey is the most complex church in existence. National cathedral, coronation church, royal mausoleum, burial place of poets, resting place of the great and of the Unknown Warrior, former home of parliament, backdrop to the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales—this rich and extraordinary building unites many functions.
Westminster Abbey is both an appreciation of an architectural masterpiece and an exploration of the building’s shifting meanings. We hear the voices of those who have described its forms, moods, and ceremonies, from Shakespeare and Voltaire to Dickens and Henry James; we see how rulers have made use of it, from medieval kings to modern prime ministers. In a highly original book, classicist and cultural historian Richard Jenkyns teaches us to look at this microcosm of history with new eyes.
Few of us have so sure a grasp of the history, architecture, artworks and literary connections of this venerable Gothic structure as Richard Jenkyns, a British writer who has made the landmark his own. Westminster Abbey is a secular hymn to a great church. Jenkyns, an Oxford professor with a fine historical sensibility, is a witty and erudite teacher.
[T]hose desiring a deeper profile of this London church than what a basic guidebook generally offers will do well to pay attention to this beautifully articulated essay by an Oxford professor… A mellifluous writing style caps this splendid reading and learning experience.
Fresh and original…it’s the next best thing to being there accompanied by an expert guide, with fascinating stories about the Abbey’s history, influence and architectural style.
- 224 pages
- Harvard University Press
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