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Gaudi: A Biography Paperback – November 4, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
One significant flaw in the book, however, is the complete lack of visual reference. I HIGHLY recommend that you have a visual reference to the buildings on hand, such as the Taschen book, when tackling this biography. The few photos here are mostly of people.
As pure as Hensbergen's intentions are, the book is a failure. Poorly written, haphazardly organized and indifferently edited, Gaudi is painful to read and does very little to improve ones understanding of the subject. To learn about the Barcelona of those days, its politics and players and how they influenced the architect, read Robert Hughes' Barcelona: a magnificent book by a master non-fiction stylist.
Gaudi: A Biography is also inadequate in the descriptions of the projects and the buildings. Hensbegen never clarifies what happened at Poblet; how Gaudi worked and what his studio was like; that the model for Colonia Guell was for an entire church, not just a crypt; and most importantly how did Gaudi view space? Hensbergen never discusses Gaudi's mature interiors. He treats the designer solely as a sculptor--a former of symbols--not as a creator of spaces.
I was confused as often by the imperfectly written sentences as by the badly explained ideas. The chronology is a muddle. Dates are even mistyped. Names pile up without clear explanation of who they are or why they are being mentioned. And the endnotes...! They are confounding digressions which clarify nothing.Without beauty, rationality and solid construction, this book is wholely unworthy of its subject.
I have always felt a fascination with things that seem to have some unexpected, almost alien, aspect to them. In architecture this includes the temples at Angkor and the Hindu temples of India; are these the works of humankind? So it is with Gaudi. Where are the precursors? Where are the followers? Perhaps there are no followers because what he did was so exceptional no-one dares takes the same path. And then there is the man Gaudi as described in this book - he is no less alien; banishing intimacy with women from his life, being absorbed in catholicism, following a rigorous vegetarian diet. I didn't want speculation - I hate that in biographies - but I would have liked more information. For example, why was Gaudi a vegetarian - was it a religious tenet he was following, was it a moral one, was it health-driven?
Other reviewers have been disturbed by Mr Hensbergens command of the English language. This did not offend me. Perhaps the paperback version I am reviewing had been further edited. But I did find the book slow to capture my attention. Perhaps it was Gaudi and not the prose that finally engaged me - but engaged I was. Another feature that initially annoyed me was the placing of the four sections of illustrations. It seemed to me that I was forever hunting for an illustration for the text I was reading. But by the end of the biography this didn't offend me at all; in fact I grew to love hunting back and forth through the illustrations because as I did so I grew to know Gaudi's architecture better and better.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wonderful biography of Gaudi written in the context of Catalan nationalism and Catholicism. Gijs also provides historical background of turn-of-the-century Barcelona with its... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Paul
Gijs van Hensbergen has written a good biography of one of the world's most creative and unconventional architects, but it could so easily have been a great biography. Read morePublished 2 months ago by keetmom
I'll admit it, I got bogged down on the writing. I read it, and kept getting lost rolling ahead on the beautiful quotes and exquisite illustrations. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jakeslovakia
Really interesting book and easy to read. Particularly relevant as I 've just visited Barcelona and seen many of Gaudi's works up close.Published 4 months ago by Kelly O'connor
Very interesting biography of Gaudi with great sketches, photos etc to illustrate the depth and scope of his considerable work. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Marijke Alderson
Wonderful book and great understanding of this brilliant man!Published on August 10, 2014 by Iraina R. Caramelli
I've just started reading this book. So far it's not as well written as I had expected. I get the sense that he had a word count target as he was writing it. Read morePublished on August 13, 2013 by Erica Patterson
This book is all over the place, jumping from Gaudi's life to Spain's history, to his contemporaries, his eccentricities, his architecture and back through it all again. Read morePublished on December 1, 2012 by Dusty
This book is phenomenal. The content is riveting, excellently presented and pure pleasure to read. It was received well ahead of the advertised date on the web site, and arrived... Read morePublished on April 5, 2012 by Seasons