IN RUINS is full of strange delights and startling surprises, exploring the mysterious, melancholy charnl of eternal fragments
Why are we so fascinated by ruins? Do we see them as jig-saws and riddles or romantic evocations of the damage of Time, complete with crumbling stone and ivy? Do they stir us to remember past glory or warn against future arrogance? In this elegant, provocative book, the brilliant young art-historian Christopher Woodward looks back to the start of the cult in the eighteenth century, when follies were built in English landscape gardens, artists and writers thrilled to Rome's poetry of decay, and in Paris the great chef Careme even served blancmanges shaped like classical ruins. He takes us from Troy and Pompei to Sicilian palaces and Nazi fantasies, and whirls us forward to modern times - to the shattered Statue of Liberty in Planet of the Apes, to Florida's Museum of Natural Phenomena, designed as a court-house dumped upside-down by a hurricane and to Chelsea Flower Show's brand-new 'Millennium Ruin'. Even the decay of an ordinary house can be as moving as the collapse of a temple - with its fascinating stories and characters, and its telling illustrations, IN RUINS is full of strange delights and startling surprises, exploring the mysterious, melancholy charm of eternal fragments. Thematically organised, not a guide book, it is full of wonderful stories, anecdotes and illustrations.