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Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres [Paperback]

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Item Number 385697  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   324
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6.2" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 31, 2007
Publisher   NuVision Publications
ISBN  1595477888  
EAN  9781595477880  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
From the moment when, through the courtesy of my friend Barrett Wendell, I came first to know Mr. Henry Adams's book, Mont-Saint- Michel and Chartres, I was profoundly convinced that this privately printed, jealously guarded volume should be withdrawn from its hiding-place amongst the bibliographical treasures of collectors and amateurs and given that wide publicity demanded alike by its intrinsic nature and the cause it could so admirably serve. To say that the book was a revelation is inadequately to express a fact; at once all the theology, philosophy, and mysticism, the politics, sociology, and economics, the romance, literature, and art of that greatest epoch of Christian civilization became fused in the alembic of an unique insight and precipitated by the dynamic force of a personal and distinguished style. -- Whitehall, Sudbury, Massachusetts, June, 1913

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More About Henry Adams

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Born in 1838 into one of the oldest and most distinguished families in Boston, a family which had produced two American presidents, Henry Adams had the opportunity to pursue a wide-ranging variety of intellectual interests during the course of his life. Functioning both in the world of practical men and afffairs (as a journalist and an assistant to his father, who was an American diplomat in Washinton and London), and in the world of ideas (as a prolific writer, the editor of the prestigious North American Review, and a professor of medieval, european, and American history at Harvard), Adams was one of the few men of his era who attempted to understand art, thought, culture, and history as one complex force field of interacting energies. His two masterworks in this dazzling effort are Mont Saint Michel and Chartres and The Education of Henry Adams, published one after the other in 1904 and 1907. Taken together they may be read as Adams' spiritual autobiography--two monumental volumes in which he attempts to bring together into a vast synthesis all of his knowledge of politics, economics, psychology, science, philosophy, art, and literature in order to attempt to understand the individual's place in history and society. They constitute one of the greatest historical and philosophical meditations on the human condition in all of literature.
Raymond Carney is well known for his writing on the relationships between American art, thought, and culture. He has been a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, served as an artistic consultant to the Whitney Museum of American Art, and written extensively on American and British poetry, ficiton, drama, dance, painting, and film. His two most recent books are American Dreaming (University of California Press) and Figures of Desire (Cambridge University Press). He teaches at Middlebury College in Vermont.

Henry Adams was born in 1949.

Henry Adams has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Penguin Classics

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A Great Book about a Great Civilization during the Middle Ages  Dec 29, 2005
Henry Adams' MONT SAINT MICHEL AND CHARTRES (MSMC) is simply a great book. Adams' lucid writing style and his insights are impressive, and this book should be read by every supposedly "educated" individual. Adams deals with complex topics such as Gothic Architecture, Medieval poetry and mysticsim, and Scholastic Philosophy with clarity and ease.

The early sections of MSMC compare the church of Mont Saint Michel with the Catholic view of St. Michel who was militant and was the perfect example of the Medieval hero defending the Catholic Church against all enemies. The comparison with this church with that of Chartres which was the examplar of God's mercy via St. Mary is insighful and facinating reading.

Such embellishment of St. Mary or Notre Dame(Our Lady)is further investigated in Adams book by Adams' careful treatment of Medieval Poetry. Adams's translations of Medieval French and Latin are good and give those who are not familiar with these languages a better understanding of both the poetry and the Medieval devotion to St. Mary.

Much of this peotry was mystical, and Adams demonstrates the attempt of St. Francis and the Franciscans to use such mystical thought in their missionary efforts to help the very poor. St. Francis' mysticism is revealed in Adams' translation of St. Francis' poem titled BROTHER SUN AND SISTER MOON.

Henry Adams then compares and contrasts Medieveal mysticism, which bordered on Pantheism, with Scholastic Philosophy. Adams gives the reader an insight to scholastic debate when he summarizes the debate between William of Champaux and Peter Abelard(1079-1142). Here Adams demonstrates his understanding of how students and masters argued and learned. He also shows the careful balence the Catholic authorities tried to impose between reasoned debate and heresy.

The last section of the book deals with the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). Adams careful treatment of Aquinas' thought is worth the price of the book. Adams gives the Angelic Doctor high praise for both his clear thinking and liberality. Adams also effectively deals with the liberality of the Medieval Catholic authorities who canonized so many men whose views were apparently contradcitory.

Henry Adams' MONT SAINT MICHEL AND CHARTRES is intellectual history at its best. The book deals with complex ideas and views in an attractive literary style which holds the readers' interest. This reviewer has read this book numerous times since he first read it in 1968 and has never found the book to be boring. Readers should also read Thomas Woods HOW THE CATHOLIC CHURCH BUILT WESTERN CIVILIZATION and compare Woods sections on the High Middle Ages with Adams' book.
Immerses the reader in medieval history reflected by cathedrals.  Oct 25, 2005
Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres should be considered and read alongside The Education of Henry Adams. 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. An intellectual journey of an American's view of France.
Delightful Read!  Jul 7, 2004
A friend suggested I read this book as I love most things French and especially Medieval buildings. I have visited both places before but obviously did not take in the detail Adams did on his visit to them. His tales are delightful, though sometimes hard to follow. The book is intellectual but really anyone can sit down and read this and be entertained.

Before reading this book I had been researching the Cathars of 11th-12th century France and this made a delightful addition to my reading on the Cathars. I recommend this book because it is stimulating, the imagery is wonderful, and it is historical.

An idiosyncratic tour of medieval French culture  Oct 2, 2003
Privately printed in 1904 (and revised seven years later), "Mont Saint Michel and Chartres" was never meant for the general public. It's the intellectual's ultimate "what I did on my summer vacation" essay, written for friends as a gift to accompany their excursions through France. The first half is a highly personal travel book and an idiosyncratic guide to art and architecture of medieval French cathedrals (particularly of Chartres); the last six chapters offer a succinct excursion through the spiritual mindset of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

If you've never been to Mont Saint Michel or to Chartres, the first ten chapters can be hard going; it's like reading a 250-page description of a painting you've never seen. Even if you have been to both locations, it's unlikely you'll remember the details Adams expected his readers to have in front of them. Fortunately, his prose is not dry (and is at times characteristically witty). Adams is able to render vividly the fleches, the portals, the arches, the statues, and the stained glass panels, and he provides the tourist with a thorough understanding of the achievement represented by medieval religious art. He also supplies as background a wealth of related literary and historical references .

The tenth chapter (and the last of Adams's official "tour") focuses less on the cathedral of Chartres itself and more on the cult of the Virgin that it represents. It serves as a segue to the second half of the book, which will be far more accessible to general readers. He compares contemporary portrayals of three queens--Eleanor of Guienne (Aquitaine), Blanche of Castile, and Mary of Champagne (who wasn't really a queen, but never mind)--to the representations of the Virgin Mary in the art, in poetry, and in hagiography. "The Virgin was a real person, whose tastes, wishes, instincts, passions, were intimately known," Adams argues. "Like other Queens, she had many of the failings and prejudices of her humanity." The final three chapters turn to the intellectual life: the ongoing tensions between universalism and nominalism, Bernard and Abelard, mysticism and rationalism--all culminating in the balancing act of Thomas Aquinas.

Over 75 years ago the "Cambridge History of English and American Literature" judged Adams's book as "probably the best expression of the spirit of the Middle Ages." Well, not quite; such a view could be proffered by a literary critic perhaps, but certainly not by a historian, and I think Adams himself would have been appalled by such a statement. (A more accurate and more thorough account from the early twentieth century is Charles Homer Haskins's "Renaissance of the Twelfth Century," published in 1927.) What Adams offers here is a glimpse of the medieval Catholic intellectual spirit as seen through the prism of his own rather conservative nineteenth-century Protestantism. His book is not so much a scholarly treatise as it is a wistful refashioning of the medieval spirit.

A disguised autobiography  Mar 23, 2002
A reading of Richard Brookhiser's recent (and highly recommended) *America's First Dynasty* sent me back to *Mont Saint Michel and Chartres*, a book I hadn't read in thirty years. I'm glad I returned to it, because a few years have, I trust, put me in a better position to appreciate what's going on in the book.

On one level, the most obvious one, Adam's book is a sometimes idiosyncratic history of Medieval art, literature, and religion that takes as its center of gravity the great Gothic cathedrals of the period--structures that Adams thinks sum up what the middle ages are all about. To read the book on this level alone is fine. It provides intriguing insights into, for example, courtly love and the cult of Mary.

But I now believe that, at a deeper level, the book is disguised autobiography on the one hand and a backhanded history of Adams's own time on the other. An at times overwhelming sense of nostalgia permeates the book. In reading Adams on the 11th century mystics, the debates of the schoolmen, the chansons of the troubadours, and the unified worldview of the middle ages, one can almost hear him sigh with longing to return to a world which, he thinks, was whole, unfractured, and pure--a world, as the medievals themselves would've said, which reflects "integritas." This reveals a great deal about the restless, unquiet nature of Henry Adams the man. But it also reveals the restless, unquiet nature of the modern era which spawned and molded him: the gilded age, the fast-paced first wave of capitalism, secularism, and consumerism, which has no center of gravity, no art, no tradition. And even though we claim to be living in a "postmodern" age, it seems to me that a great deal of the qualities Adams deplored in his own times are still with us and account for our own sense of homelessness.

*Mont Saint Michel and Chartres,* then, is more than a quaint turn-of-the-last-century history. Read correctly, it's also a mirror of our present discontent. Highly recommended.


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