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.
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).
Foreword, by Michael Ignatieff Introduction Apt: Reading an Antique City as Palimpsest Desolate Treasure Crypto-Christianity: The Sarcophagi of Arles, I Terra Sigillata Relics: Membra Martyrum as Living Current Venus Disfigured The Blossoming of Numbers: The Baptistery at Riez The Deletion of Shadow: The Sarcophagi of Arles, II City of God Laying the Dragon Low The Dark Ages: A History of Omissions The Blue Tears of Sainte-Marthe The Blind Arcade: Reflections on a Carolingian Sarcophagus Celestial Paradigms Vaulting the Nave The Dome: Architecture as Antecedent Classical Roots, Evangelical Branches Vanished Scaffolds and the Structures Thereof Incastellamento: Perching the Village, I Incastellamento: Perching the Village, II (The Circulades of Languedoc) Faja Oscura Psalmodi The Fifth Element: From Manna to Exaction Mary Magdalene the Odoriferous The Death of Genesis Notes Index