Gargoyles and Grotesques: Paganism in the Medieval Church

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9780821206447: Gargoyles and Grotesques: Paganism in the Medieval Church

Dust jacket notes: "All over Europe uncounted numbers of gargoyles and grotesques leer down from the columns and towers of medieval churches and cathedrals. Since these carvings are virtually antipathetic to the aesthetics of Romanesque or Gothic architecture, and since they are certainly not Christian in intention, there must have been very strong reasons underlying their presence. This book sets out to show what these reasons were, illustrating the text with more than 100 examples of the art. The authors suggest that grotesque art stems directly from earlier pagan beliefs which the Church was unable - for its own safety - to fully eradicate, and so allowed to exist side by side with orthodox Christian images. The few contemporary documents surviving are naturally silent on such a taboo subject, but evidence comes from the objects themselves. An extraordinary picture emerges. Ronald Sheridan and Dr Anne Ross, Britain's leading authority on Celtic studies, identify these intriguing sculptures with pagan gods, giants, and folk figures whose antiquity may be as old as man's in Europe. Head-devouring ogres, foliate heads, biting and beaked heads, serpents - images which have been interpreted in terms of Christian visions of Hell - take on new meaning...."

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