A prize-winning Belgian poet explores the nature of creative endeavor—the god-like ambition, the crushing defeat of failure—through the stories of thirteen tragic architects.
In thirteen fascinating chapters, Charlotte Van den Broeck goes in search of buildings that were fatal to their architects—architects who either killed themselves or are rumored to have done so. They range across time and space from a church with a twisted spire in seventeenth-century France to a theater that collapsed mid-performance in 1920s Washington, DC, and an eerily sinking swimming pool in the author’s hometown. Drawing on a vast range of material, from Hegel and Darwin to art history, stories from her own life, and popular culture, patterns gradually come into focus as Van den Broeck asks, What is that strange, life-or-death connection between a creation and its creator?
Threaded through each story, the author meditates on the question of suicide—what Albert Camus called the “one truly serious philosophical problem”—in relation to creativity and public disgrace. The result is a profoundly idiosyncratic book, breaking ground in literary nonfiction, as well as providing solace and consolation to anyone who has ever attempted a creative act.