Unless you are following the spiritual journey of Huysmans’ hero Durtal OR would like to know much more about Chartres Cathedral, this book may be of little interest. Much of it consists in conversations about the history of the architecture of the ancient church, reputed to be built on an original ‘Druid’ place of worship. Other topics include the significance and origin of the various designs, flowers and statues contained therein. Durtal speculates on topics such as prayer and the reasons why he struggles to keep focussed on his intention whilst praying or indeed, receiving any kind of spiritual feedback from the activity. He wonders what effect a positive feeling would have on his mental well being. Would it immediately increase his spiritual pride or ego to put it in modern terms?
We are fortunate indeed in these days to be able to read Huysmans’ descriptions of the statues at the western portal for instance, whilst at the same time being able see what they actually look like by using a search engine and typing the term ‘Chartres statues’. How quickly we take these modern miracles for granted.