Ladder of Shadows

Ladder of Shadows : Reflecting on Medieval Vestige in Provence and Languedoc

By (author) Gustaf Sobin , Foreword by Michael Ignatieff


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Bits of late Roman coinage, the mutilated torso of a marble Venus, blue debris from an early medieval glassworks, and the powder rasped from the reputed tomb of Mary Magdalene - these tantalizing mementos of human history found scattered throughout the landscape of southeastern France are the points of departure for Gustaf Sobin's lyrical narrative. A companion volume to his acclaimed "Luminous Debris", "Ladder of Shadows" picks up where the former left off: with late antiquity, covering a period from roughly the third to the thirteenth century. Here Sobin offers brilliant readings of late Roman and early Christian ruins in his adopted region of Provence, sifting through iconographic, architectural, and sacramental vestiges to shed light on nothing less than the existential itself.

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  • Paperback | 264 pages
  • 137.16 x 208.28 x 22.86mm | 362.87g
  • 05 Jan 2009
  • University of California Press
  • Berkerley
  • English
  • 19 b/w photographs, 5 line illustrations
  • 0520253353
  • 9780520253353
  • 757,187

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Author Information

Gustaf Sobin (1935-2005) was a poet, novelist, and essayist. His books include the novel The Fly-Truffler and Luminous Debris: Reflecting on Vestige in Provence and Languedoc (UC Press).

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In "Ladder of Shadows, " Gustaf Sobin is 'always in search of the kind of phenomena that might, potentially, confer sense upon one's own existence.' In the course of this search, Sobin's essays enact a lovely and compelling labor of making the past present, while also making the present unfold and open itself to history. Joshua Clover, author of "The Totality for Kids" Gustaf Sobin's "Ladder of Shadows "is to Provencal consciousness what his perfect sensorium of poetry is to a rose and the sound of a river. Sobin's writing is a gift that we never learn to expect; it always surprises. Michael McClure, poet and playwright I feel as though I just walked across southern France from 27 B.C. to A.D. 1200 accompanied by a really smart, articulate, and avid local insider. Along the way he introduced me to monks, potters, stonemasons, architects, glassblowers, farmers still using late Neolithic methods, woodcutters, and salt dryers. Perhaps the reader should be warned not to open the book unless there are several days of free time available. It is almost impossible to put it down. Dean MacCannell, author of "The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class" "

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