It is the unique merit of The Gothic Revival that it gives as much attention to the ideas that gave Gothic architecture its emotional and intellectual power as it does to its great monuments.
The eighteenth century admired the Gothic for its sense of decay and melancholy; the nineteenth century first cherished its religious piety, then its superb engineering. In the course of the Revival the Gothic was attached to social movements of every sort – from political liberalism to patriotic nationalism to labour reform. Like Marxism, which also drew lessons from medieval society, the Gothic Revival seemed to offer a comprehensive response to the dislocations and traumas of the Industrial Revolution.
By the early twentieth century, the Gothic Revival had outlived its ideals. In recent years, however, the climate of opinion has changed, and we are ready to understand, appreciate and learn from it. Professor Lewis’s book is the most comprehensive, authoritative and sensitive contribution to the revival of the Revival.