Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction Summary

David Macaulay


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

In Cathedral architecture and construction come alive as human accomplishments. The drawings and a thoroughly researched but brief text clarify the technical aspects and terminology as well. A one-page glossary in the back provides a quick reference for architectural terms found in the text. The book also introduces the social structure, materials, and working conditions of the medieval trade guilds.

The book provides excellent exercise for the developing imagination, presenting an incredible variety of viewpoints from which to examine a cathedral— angles not even available to someone standing in the real building. For example, Macaulay provides a bird's-eye view down through the unfinished choir and then takes the reader inside at triforium height, looking out toward the empty space where the nave will be. One page later the reader stands on a narrow scaffold up in the trusses of the roof. A head-on elevation sketch indicates exactly how high the scaffold is and—in terms of construction stages—how it got there. Macaulay's drawings are both meticulously detailed and highly imaginative in perspective.

(The entire section is 173 words.)