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The Cathedral

(Durtal #3)

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  171 ratings  ·  15 reviews
It is the third of Huysmans' books to feature the character Durtal, a thinly disguised portrait of the author. He had already featured the character of Durtal in Là-bas and En route, which recounted his conversion to Catholicism. La Cathédrale continues the story. After his retreat at a Trappist monastery, Durtal moves to the city of Chartres, renowned for its cathedral. H ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published January 16th 2007 by Echo Library (first published June 1898)
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- Detail in a portal from Chartres Cathedral, photographer : P.E. / L'un des portails de la cathédrale de Chartres (détail), photographie : P.E.

I close the doors of The Cathedral.

Well. The scale of the groundwork in spiritual symbolism cannot be understated.

From architecture to perfumery, via statuary, symbolism of colors, minerals, plants, animals, The Cathedral is a well furnished cabinet of curiosities gathered by Huysmans in a reduced volume. A stupendous cluster of information on the most o
Aug 27, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Whew-ee! OK, let's map this out. The Dedalus edition of The Cathedral is 339 pages of small, dense type. Realistically the "novel" portion of the book, that is the part that concerns the fictional character Durtal and his story (such as it is), takes up a slim 65 to 75 pages. Go ahead and count 'em.

The rest of this beast can be divided like so: (1) 150 or so pages constitute a well researched and opinionated guidebook on Chartres Cathedral, its history, architecture but mostly the art therein; (
Czarny Pies
Jul 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those who like Rodenbach's "Bells of Bruges" or d'Annuzio's "Flame"
Shelves: french-lit
The "Cathedral" is a novel about a building. I loathed the concept when I read it during the summer holidays of 1986. I felt rather dogmatically that novels should be about people not structures. Moreover, I disapproved. The book seemed to be promoting the Lourdes pilgrimages and I was afraid that Huysmans might have been an anti-dreyfusard. All in all, I was I was highly disappointed at the time especially since I had greatly enjoyed "La Bas" and "A rebours" which I had read the previous summer ...more
Lee Foust
The Cathedral, volume three of the four-part novel of the religious conversion of Durtal the writer (and Huysman's fictional spiritual alter-ego), is a step up in inventiveness and interest from volume two (En Route), but it's still a far cry from the exquisite beauty of the tetralogy's opening volume, the brilliant and transcendent La Bas.

Points here for disguising the continued, rather bourgeois, spiritual struggles of poor, alienated, opinionated, and decadent Durtal in the folds of the medie
John Trefry
Aug 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novel
Moby Dick for buildings.
Les aventures de Durtal sur le chemin pour devenir un catholique esthétiquement et intellectuellement irréprochable continuent! Après avoir découvert l'existence du mal dans Paris (Là-bas), l'heureuse solitude mouvementée d'un cloître (En Route), Durtal s'arrête à Chartres, près de la Cathédrale qui est le véritable centre et sujet de ce livre.

Si l'on constate que la plume de Huysmans est toujours bien là, l'intrigue et le romanesque de Là-Bas sont bien loin! Le Malin lui même ne daigne plus vra
May 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
The second volume in Huysman's quasi-autobiographical trilogy featuring the character Durtal, this book is fascinating reading for anyone interested in cathedral architecture, religious symbolism, or church traditions of the middle ages. The book has been used for years as a guidebook for Chartes Cathedral. I give it two stars simply because it strains credibility to call it a novel. It is a short story wrapped around a travel guide. Let the reader beware... ...more
Mar 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
"Her sufferings constantly increased. Feeling that this time she was dying, she grieved over the pitiless macerations she had used, and with touching artlessness begged forgiveness of her poor body for having exhausted its strength, and so having perhaps hindered it from living to suffer longer.

And she then put up the most strangely fragrant, the most wildly extravagant prayer that ever a Saint can have addressed to God.

She had so loved the Holy Eucharist, she had so longed to kneel at His feet
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned, teologia
Detesto deixar livros a meio, mas este "A Catedral" é simplesmente demasiado aborrecido. O título não engana, é mesmo sobre, e quase só sobre, a catedral de Chartres. A pouquíssima ação acontece entre as lentas e monótonas divagações teológicas sobre a catedral, os significados das formas, cores, pinturas etc.

Durtal é um beato parisiense que se muda para Chartres para fugir à vida decadente da capital e se apaixona pela sua catedral. A sua nova vida é resumida a estudar a catedral e a dialogar
Donal Anthony Foley
A building Alive

Good follow up to En Route - but excessive descriptive passages - for enthusiasts for Chartres. Cathedral essentially and of religious symbolism
Oleksandr Fediienko
Oct 28, 2015 rated it liked it
«Собор» є завершальною книгою трилогії про Дюрталя – парижанина кінця 19-ого століття, який наситився світським життям, залишив у минулому свої загравання із сатанізмом і присвятив себе духовному пошуку. Після відвідин монастиря Нотр-Дам де л’Атр головний герой не знаходить собі місця в Парижі, де йому нудно. Життя у місті йому остогидло, і коли чи не єдиний його друг абат Жеврезен пропонує йому разом поїхати в Шартр, де в місцевому соборі панотцю запропонували роботу, Дюрталь їде з ним. Втім, й ...more
Michael A.
Feb 18, 2012 is currently reading it
I often return to the description of La Salette (, which comes early the book, when I feel the need to encounter the horrific sublime. His description is a good introduction to this wonderfully 19th-century preoccupation. ...more
Dec 30, 2015 rated it liked it
As much the author's guidebook to Chartres as it is a novel, this is a dense --but in a good sense--meditation on the architecture and symbolism of this great cathedral. Not for those wanting a quick overview, but surely an interesting work. ...more
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
a very strange book
fascinating for the extraordinary development of its style
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Charles Marie Georges Huysmans was a French novelist who published his works as Joris-Karl Huysmans.

He is most famous for the novel À rebours (Against Nature). His style is remarkable for its idiosyncratic use of the French language, wide-ranging vocabulary, wealth of detailed and sensuous description, and biting, satirical wit.

The novels are also noteworthy for their encyclopaedic documentation

Other books in the series

Durtal (4 books)
  • Là-Bas (Down There)
  • En Route
  • The Oblate of St. Benedict

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“the surplice and alb signify innocence; the cord that serves as a girdle is an emblem of chastity and modesty; the amice, of purity of heart and body—the helmet of salvation mentioned by Saint Paul. The maniple, of good works, vigilance, and the tears and sweat poured out by the priest to win and save souls; the stole, of obedience, the clothing on of immortality given to us in baptism; the dalmatic, of justice, of which we must give proof in our ministrations; the chasuble, of the unity of the faith, and also of the yoke of Christ” 1 likes
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