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THE STONES OF THE ABBEY by Fernand Pouillon



Pub Date: May 20th, 1970
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World

The author, a well-known French architect, has created a fictional diary-account of the 12th century monk-builder who designed and organized the construction of the Abbey of Le Thoronet, an astonishing achievement of medieval architecture. Mr. Pouillon transforms his somewhat special subject into an arresting narrative of the dying monk and his conflicts in the ""work which I love more than God."" The diary compresses a chronicle of nine months to characterizations which suggest the massiveness of a complete history--the web of the Cistercian Order, rivalry for the Papal throne, war between France and England. The overriding drama, however, is that of the building site itself and the recalcitrant natural rock that defies dressing. But the monk, alone in his appreciation of the beauty of the rock, insists not only on its use, but on the most demanding method of construction with dry joints, Brutally aware of his few months to live, he bypasses doctrinal rules, mobilizing his religious charges into tireless taskforces, assuring the future through the past of ""martyrdom."" An impassioned legend, for all its steady slow-pacing, with the author's technical knowledge in constant evidence.