The Gothick North: A Study of Medieval Life, Art, and Thought

The Gothick North: A Study of Medieval Life, Art, and Thought

The Gothick North: A Study of Medieval Life, Art, and Thought

The Gothick North: A Study of Medieval Life, Art, and Thought

Excerpt

The subject of this book has so vast a complexity that two principles have been easy to satisfy: that the things discussed should be non-Italian, and that they should be remote from ordinary experience and not too painfully present to the eyes. But this book, which does not pretend to be a treatise upon mediaeval art, has at least other intentions than that it should merely extol the strange and the unfamiliar.

The trend of taste has now altogether set in against the period in which my scenes are placed. So many books of a purely technical interest have been written upon churches that it is nearly impossible to consider their merit away from the massed opinions and facts in which they are embedded. Indeed, the strained and fidgety bulk of these huge affairs has made their beauty a little repellent in the eyes of our contemporaries. Such familiarities of France and England have been scrupulously avoided in these pages. But even the Moorish Alhambra, that typical instance of the elder discrimination, is denied its beauty by this present generation, and poet, or painter, is more likely to tread in his fancy the banks of the Congo than those filigree courts and coffered cloisters of Granada.

"At length burst in the argent revelry,
With plume, tiara, and all rich array,
Numerous as shadows haunting fairily
The brain new stuff'd, in youth, with triumphs gay
Of old romance."

Now this shock, this revelation, bursts upon the poet's brain from some other quarter. Empty shrines and deserted fanes have nearly lost any hold they ever had upon the imagination.

Perhaps the motive of my pages has been sufficiently set . . .

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