In Ruins

Front Cover
Pantheon Books, 2001 - Architecture - 280 pages
A brilliant young historian, Christopher Woodward takes us on a thousand-year journey with artists and writers who have delighted in ruins. We travel from the plains of Troy to the monuments of ancient Rome, from the crumbling palaces of Sicily, Cuba, and Zanzibar to the rubble of the London Blitz. We meet the teenage Byron in the moldering Newstead Abbey, Flaubert watching buzzards on the pyramids, Henry James in the Colosseum, and Freud at Pompeii. Woodward illuminates doomed visions of the future, whether in grandiose Nazi fantasies or in the battered Statue of Liberty prophesying the end of the American Empire in Planet of the Apes. He uncovers intimations of mortality in the decay of an ordinary house. He revels in the charm of the follies of eighteenth-century landscapes.

Elegant, thought provoking, and beautifully illustrated, In Ruins is a revelation of the expression of the human imagination where we might otherwise have seen only a pile of stones.

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User Review  - Kirkus

A perceptive British museum director speculates on the significance of architectural ruins for artists, writers, and the rest of us.The author wastes no time establishing his literary and artistic ... Read full review

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User Review  - dmzach - LibraryThing

A great little book on why we are fascinated with ruins. They tell us not just about our past, but perhaps also about our future. If Rome could fall, it's a simple reach to believe that our great cities could also fall. Read full review


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About the author (2001)

Christopher Woodward is director of the Holburne Museum of Art in Bath, England where he lives.

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