The narrative of CATHEDRAL unfolds over 50 years in the fictional medieval Rhineland city of Hagenburg, and is narrated by a chorus of 15 different characters. Each narrator has a distinctive voice, lending the novel a variety of literary styles: chatty, colloquial first person narrative, lyrical poetry, vulgar prose. The result is a polyphonic, kaleidoscopic portrait of a time in European history which saw mass migration from the countryside to the burgeoning towns, and a consequent growth in wealth and trade.
Pauper or merchant, administrator or craftsman, young or old, the narrators’ central meeting point is the building site of the Cathedral – a gothic masterpiece whose construction begins in 1229 and which is still being built when the novel ends.
CATHEDRAL is a portrait of the early roots of modern mercantile capitalism. It is a portrait of the tentative emergence of what will later be called “the middle class”. It is a book of historical sweep and detailed, personal stories.
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