Press Release: Camille, The Gargoyles of Notre Dame

June 16, 2009
By

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Any fan of the public radio show This American Life will remember the classic episode in which host Ira Glass takes Michael Camille, renowned scholar of the Middle Ages, to Medieval Times—the chain of “castles” that offer such attractions as jousting shows and meals served by “wenches.” Glass was “wondering what this academic is going to think,” one of Camille’s colleagues later recalled. “But Michael’s attentive, delighted response captures so much of his pleasure in discovery.” The Gargoyles of Notre-Dame, the last work Camille completed before his passing in 2002, reflects not only that trademark joie de vivre but also the intellectual heft he embodied just as fully.
Constructed in the 1800s, the famous gargoyles represent a later era’s notion of the Middle Ages (not entirely unlike Medieval Times). In his sweeping, comprehensive history of these chimeras, Camille shows for the first time how they transformed an iconic thirteenth-century cathedral into a modern monument. From the nineteenth-century reconstruction of Notre-Dame through the gargoyles’ twentieth-century afterlives, Camille tells a story that will delight anyone whose imagination has been sparked by the enigmatic creatures who gaze at Paris from one of the world’s most celebrated vantage points.
Read the press release.

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