718: Last Landscapes by Ken Worpole

by Gerard


718: Worpole, Ken. Last Landscapes: The Architecture of the Cemetery in the West. London: Reaktion Books, 2003. 199 pp. ISBN 1-86189-161-X.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts
  • 710: Civic and landscape art
  • 718: Landscape design of cemeteries

“Architecture in Western Europe begins with tombs,” Ken Worpole tells us. His Last Landscapes is a prescient look into the proliferation and metamorphosis of graveyards, cemeteries, churchyards, and burial sites over the last two millennia. From the simple burial mounds of England’s early inhabitants to the ornate sculptures of Victorian graves, Worpole’s discussion of Western cemeteries is complex, nuanced, and beautiful. To understand places like these, you have to see them, and there are plenty of photographs of modern and classical graveyards and mausoleums included in this book. The author writes about death, burial, and landscapes from many angles—cultural, social, artistic, and personal. While his travels to various cemeteries are centered around England, he goes to the Netherlands, North America, and Italy to look at burial architecture in a more global light. Journeying into Eastern architecture would have made this volume a great deal larger, but I think that contrast would have made the book that much richer. All in all, though, this was quite an interesting book.