Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Obscure Architecturally-Related Person of the Day!

SUGER, Abbot (1081-1151), was not an architect; neither does he seem to have been responsible, even as an amateur, for any architectural work. But as he was abbot of St. Denis, outside Paris, when the abbey church was partly rebuilt (c. 1135-44), and as this was the building where the Gothic style was to all intents and purposes invented, or where it finally evolved out of the scattered elements already existing in many places, his name must be recorded here.

I'm sure he would say, "Thanks, but don't bother, bub." But wait, there's more!

He wrote two books on the abbey in which the new building is commented on, but nowhere refers to the designer or indeed explicitly to the innovations incorporated in the building.

From the Penguin Dictionary of Architecture, Third Edition.

And thus we are led to wonder why bother even taking up so much space talking about him.

Well, because he's actually an interesting sort of character, despite what the paragraphs above might lead you to believe. Here is a website with some excerpts of his writings describing the construction of the chapel, and it is telling that despite the passage of over 850 years, some things about construction are still pretty much the same, no matter what.

[...] On a certain day when, with a downpour of rain, a dark opacity had covered the turbid air, those accustomed to assist in the work [of quarrying stone for columns--Ed.] while the carts were coming down to the quarry went off because of the violence of the rain. The ox-drivers complained and protested that they had nothing to do and that the laborers were standing around and losing time. Clamoring, they grew so insistent that some weak and disabled persons together with a few boys seventeen in number and, if I am not mistaken, with a priest present--hastened to the quarry, picked up one of the ropes, fastened it to a column and abandoned another shaft which was lying on the ground; for there was nobody who would undertake to haul this one. [...]

Anyone who's ever had to deal with truck drivers or material handlers will recognize the abbot's frustration.

Here is another site with some information about the Abbey St. Denis with some photos and such.

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