Trough the prism of the tumultuous life and brilliant intellect of Sir Christopher Wren, the multitalented architect of Saint Paul's Cathedral in London, historian Lisa Jardine unfolds the vibrant, extraordinary emerging new world of late-seventeenth-century science and ideas.
The man behind the bold, imposing beauty of Saint Paul's was as remarkable as the monuments he has left us. Wren was a versatile genius who could have pursued a number of brilliant careers with equal virtuosity. A mathematical prodigy, an accomplished astronomer, a skillful anatomist, and a founder of the Royal Society, he eventually made a career in what he described disparagingly in later life as "Rubbish " -- architecture, and the design and construction of public buildings.
Wren was a major figure at a turning point in English history. He mapped moons and the trajectories of comets for kings; lived and worked under six monarchs; pursued astronomy and medicine during two civil wars; exercised his creativity through the English Commonwealth, the Great Fire, the Restoration. His royal employment out lasted abdication, Dutch invasion, and the eventual extinction of the Stuart dynasty.
Beyond the public achievements, Jardine explores Wren's personal motivations and passions. He was a sincere, intensely moral man with a remarkable capacity for friendship. His career was shaped by lasting associations forged during a turbulent boyhood and a lifelong loyalty to the memory of his father's master and benefactor, the "martyred king," Charles I.
Everything Wren undertook, he envisaged on a grander scale -- bigger, better, more enduring than anything that had gone before.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wren was a child prodigy in 17th century England. He shifted from astronomy,medical field, art,mathmatics,and most of his life as a architect rebuilding London after fire destroyed a large portion of the city. Wren lived with civil wars , plagues, invasions from other countries,but also a revival of new ideas in all facets of life. Wren the man was in the English aristocracy with several others worked directly with the Kings of England ,because he outlived so many of them. This is,a fascinating book to read ,and Jardine explains Wrens life as a person that always wants to do more than just expected.
Anyone who visits London will have pointed out to them "a Wren church." This biography of the 17th century architect Christopher Wren explains why that is. It seems the world produced at least one genius who was not a bully, a cad or a drunk. Living until his 90s, Wren worked to the end and transformed a great city in a way few men ever do. Read this as the antidote to all those biographies of talent in people who made better animals than human.
Christopher Wren, didn't he rebuild St. Paul's after the Great Fire. Yes, he did that--and rebuilt all those parish churches too. We all know that. But, who knew that is father was the Dean of St. George's Chapel, Windsor, and, in that capacity hid the records of the Order of the Garter during the Cromwell period? Who knew that he helped to found the Royal Society (for the advancement of science)? That he was at one time a professor of astronomy. In an age where half those born did not reach their first birthday, Christopher Wren, lived to be 91 years old. His achievements were monumental (pun intended) but they want far beyond the architecture we know about (which in his old age he referred to as "rubbish"). His was an astounding life. This book is well researched and superbly written. After reading this one, I went out and bought the author's life of Jane Austen (of course from Amazon). Kudo's to the author and you all go out and buy (and read) this...
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