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Holy Terrors: Gargoyles on Medieval Buildings Hardcover – April 1, 1997


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Holy Terrors: Gargoyles on Medieval Buildings + The Gargoyle Book: 572 Examples from Gothic Architecture (Dover Architecture)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Abbeville Press; 1st edition (April 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789201828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789201829
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 8.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
After searching several times for a book that gives the true meaning behind what gargoyles are, and where to find them, it has been found. This book combines a great number of detailed pictures with excellent writing. Way to go Janetta Benton!!!!
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Insightful text by an author unafraid of offering opinions and possibilities about the various uses, designs and significance of all manner of Gargoyles. Historical information on the periods, people and places in which Gargoyles dwell. Great photo's from cover to cover. Nicely organized and well written throughout.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Mitch Evich on February 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"Holy Terrors" is that rarest of books, one that is of genuine value to adults curious about art and architecture, but also very much capable of holding the interest of children. My five-year-old son loves the pictures--especially the "Hairy human with animal head" that adorns the cathedral in Burgos, Spain. We also both appreciate the excellent selection of medieval illustrations, such as Schongauer's "Temptation of Saint Anthony." Skimming through "Holy Terrors" is a fun way to introduce kids to one of the cultural treasures of Europe.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By E. A. Lovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on January 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Almost every tourist who has ever climbed to the top of the North Tower of Notre-Dame de Paris has taken a photo of his or her companion leaning over the balustrade between two gargoyles (technically 'chimeras'), and surveying the streets below. It's the ultimate gargoyle photo-op. I'm surprised this author was able to photograph the gargoyles without a tourist leaning between them. I was only slightly disappointed to learn from this book that much of the stonework on this tower is nineteenth-century restoration by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, "started in 1845 to repair damage done to the cathedral during the Revolution." However, he did attempt to use molds of the originals.

Basically gargoyles are waterspouts, but to me they are proof that medieval stonemasons had a lively sense of humor--which they might have inherited from the Etruscans or the Egyptians, who also used animal-shaped stone waterspouts. Strictly speaking, gargoyles that do not spout water are known as 'grotesques' or 'chimeras.'

It surprised me to learn that gargoyles used to be brightly colored--oranges, reds, and greens were favored--and sometimes gilded. The author believes that "gargoyles may be survivals of pagan beliefs...incorporated into church decorations for superstitious reasons." I've read many a horror story based on this assumption, most notably "The Cambridge Beast" and "The Sheelagh-na-gig" by Mary Ann Allen.

Encounters between gargoyles and people are unique to the Cathedral of Saint John in Den Bosch, the Netherlands: "As a monstrous creature leaps out from the top of the buttress, the people cringe in terror, each one leaning back in an attempt to escape the attack of their horrible assailant.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Chris Wozniak on March 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is one of the best books I got from [amazon.com]. I got the two books Holy Terror's and American Gargolyes... it was a great deal. The book is loaded with pictures of gargoyles from across america and desrcibes what type of gargoyle and where it is located in america. The photographs are beautiful and descriptive through out the book. If you gargoyles get the two books for the price of one. Highly Recommended!!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael on August 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would like to suggest that Janetta Rebold Benton has done a great service in furthering thought about the gargoyles on medieval buildings.

First of all, the choice of photographs and the way she explains them is exquisite! The book is highly worthwhile on this basis alone. However, this book also has the added benefit of some excellent thoughts on the MEANING of the gargoyles. I think this gives much insight into history and church history.

She wisely premises that there may be different meanings in different times and situations. She states that, "the medieval affection for ambiguity allowed for a multiplicity of meanings... Characteristic of the medieval mentality was a willingness to freely interpret reality, as well as fantasy, according to religious symbolism." (Page 21)
After her 10 years of research and cogent reasoning, here are some of the things she points out:
1. Medieval people did not have telephoto lenses or even good binoculars. The majority of the gargoyles are set too high to be seen very well with the naked eye. This is also the case with many stained-glass windows. Therefore, the exquisite artwork here was meant to be seen by God, or they just enjoyed doing it.
(From this, I surmised that possibly the craftsmen themselves may have competed to do the best stone carving. The author suggests this saying that some of the Masons may have had an ego.)
2. Of the medieval gargoyles (as opposed to modern gargoyles such as the Chrysler building in New York City) no two gargoyles are the same! Wow! This shows the amazing individual craftsmanship that was going on.
3. As the glorious medieval times transitioned from paganism to Christianity, there could have been some concession given to former paganism especially in Roman culture.
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