A spellbinding new talent explores the dark side of creativity through the stories of thirteen tragic architects’What a sensible, intelligent and beautiful book’ Stefan Hertmans, author of War and TurpentineIn thirteen chapters, Belgian poet Charlotte Van den Broeck goes in search of buildings that were fatal for their architects – architects who either killed themselves or are rumoured to have done so.
They range across time and space from a church with a twisted spire built in seventeenth-century France to a theatre that collapsed mid-performance in 1920s Washington, DC., and an eerily sinking swimming pool in her hometown of Turnhout. Drawing on a vast range of material, from Hegel and Charles 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, and in prose of great essayistic subtlety, Van den Broeck 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 new ground in literary non-fiction, as well as providing solace and consolation – and a note of caution – to anyone who has ever risked their hand at a creative act.