Ladder of Shadows: Reflecting on Medieval Vestige in Provence and Languedoc

Ladder of Shadows: Reflecting on Medieval Vestige in Provence and Languedoc

Ladder of Shadows: Reflecting on Medieval Vestige in Provence and Languedoc

Ladder of Shadows: Reflecting on Medieval Vestige in Provence and Languedoc

Synopsis

Bits of late Roman coinage, the mutilated torso of a marble Venus, blue debris from an early medieval glassworks, and the powder rasped from the reputed tomb of Mary Magdalene--these tantalizing mementos of human history found scattered throughout the landscape of southeastern France are the points of departure for Gustaf Sobin's lyrical narrative. A companion volume to his acclaimed Luminous Debris, Ladder of Shadows picks up where the former left off: with late antiquity, covering a period from roughly the third to the thirteenth century. Here Sobin offers brilliant readings of late Roman and early Christian ruins in his adopted region of Provence, sifting through iconographic, architectural, and sacramental vestiges to shed light on nothing less than the existential itself.

Excerpt

Michael Ignatieff

Ladder of Shadows is an interconnected meditation on the history of Provence from the decline of the Roman Empire to the birth of Romanesque Christian civilization a thousand years later. It is a story of collapse and destruction, rebirth and renewal. It is the story of how Europe was reborn from the Dark Ages. It is also a study of how mosaics and sarcophagi, statues and pillars—the fragments of art left behind—reflect and transmit the experience of a civilization’s collapse and rebirth.

The narrative is told as a tale of fragments. Sometimes the fragment is a light blue shard of glass the author found on the site of a seventh-century glassworks. From this tiny fragment an essay re-creates the vanished world of itinerant glassworkers. Sometimes the fragment is a torso of Venus, the statue’s arms, legs, and head severed a thousand years ago, we discover, by early Christians determined to obliterate these threats to the fleshdenying severity of their new faith. Sometimes the essay tells the story of a whole building, a forgotten Romanesque chapel high in . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.