Our assignment was to pick a range of a subject and find a book within it, then find a review of the book and say whether or not we would want that book in our library. We picked up Gothic Architecture by Paul Frankl.
In 1933 when the book came out, it had rave reviews in the New York Times. The book came out the day after Frankl died. He had written it for 30 years, fled Germany to get it published in the U.S., befriended Oppenhiemer at Princeton. Frankl had visited hundreds of gothic buildings. I wonder how many were standing after World War II.
In the 60′s we found a different review. Turns out that Frankl’s historical theory was way behind the times. His thinking was so outdated many thought it had been written in the 20′s. The guy who updated it had to do such extensive work on the text that many said he should receive co-author credits.
What did Frankl and Oppenhiemer talk about?
Paul Frankl gave his life for this book. I wonder how many family birthdays and important events he missed while traveling Europe looking at Gothic buildings, another arched ceiling, another set of huge windows, and some more gargoyles. In the end he had spent so much time looking at the buildings that he forgot to look at the world around him, at his field of study’s growth and direction. In the end, he wrote an important book that was as out of date as the buildings it was about.
I am sure that if I had tried to read this book it would have bored me to tears. But I didn’t have to read it, only read about it.
Don’t judge a book by its contents.