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Death and Architecture: Introduction to Funerary and Commemorative Buildings

Author : James Stevens Curl

Publisher : Thrupp, Stroud: Sutton Publishing Ltd., 2002
ISBN: 0-7509-2877-8 (hbk)

Death and Architecture will interest many people, and it is not aimed at a specialist market. After all, every creature that is born must die: death is the only certainty in life, a fact grasped in countless earlier generations, but not given much consideration today.

This richly illustrated book, a revised edition of JSC's A Celebration of Death (1980), emphasises the importance of funerary architecture in the development of architectural style. Its message rings out clearly as the Last Trump: the tomb has been the chronicler of taste throughout all history.  



'Curl eloquently guides the reader on a grand tour of the history of death, pausing en route to pay homage to countless temples, mausolea, cemeteries and monumental tombs, each exemplifying the multifarious ways our forebears have chosen to celebrate the inevitable conclusion of life.'

Matthew Scanlan in Freemasonry Today 28 (Spring 2004) 56

'This standard text has been due for reissue for some time… In twelve chapters and 400 or so pages, Curl gives an account of the stylistic development of memorial architecture from the temples of ancient Egypt… to the cemeteries and monuments designed to accommodate, physically and spiritually, the twentieth century’s two world wars. In particular, he highlights the architectural changes, met with typical Victorian gusto, of combining economic and physical practicality, moral instruction, and tastes. The final chapters contain a fascinating survey of cremation and crematoria, a moving tribute to war cemeteries and memorials, and a selection of civic buildings to commemorate the dead… The extensive, up-to-date bibliography… fairly indicates the author’s zeal and expertise. Curl has established himself over the years, as the Pevsner of the boneyard. The book is packed with juxtapositions of the serene and the dramatic, surprising contrasts in scale and style, widely different ideas of decorum. There is abundance. There is vitality. Curl’s 350 illustrations do more than support his text; they are the stars of the show…'

Hal Jensen in The Times Literary Supplement 5196 (1 November 2002) 12
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