나를 바꾼 순간: Ken Follett – killing time, I found the inspiration for my most successful novel

나는n the mid-70s, when I was a young reporter on the London newspaper the Evening News, I was sent to Peterborough – then pretty much on the edge of the paper’s circulation area – to do a story. I had finished my interview, and had an hour to wait until the next train back to London, 그래서, having nothing to do, I went to look at Peterborough Cathedral.

As you approach it from the west, there are three huge arches: they look like doorways for giants. 내부에, I looked around and was completely fascinated. Most people who look at a cathedral feel this, usually asking themselves two questions: why did medieval people want one of these? And how did they build it?

The people of the 12th century were very poor, yet they created these wonderful buildings: very beautiful, very expensive, very difficult to build for people who had crude tools and lacked the mathematics to calculate stresses. When you look up at the big stones, particularly if there is a tower, you think: how did they get that all the way up there? Then there is the sheer beauty of these wonderful churches, the way the arches sweep up, and the perspective down the nave. The view from a distance is often enrapturing, 너무.

It was the first time that I had really looked at a church like that. I was brought up in the Plymouth Brethren, a puritanical religious sect. Our churches were never called “churches”; they were halls with plain white walls. Pictures and statues were forbidden; the only bit of decoration might be an embroidered text. So for me, it was all new, and standing there in Peterborough Cathedral was the beginning of my fascination.

Before long, I would seek out other cathedrals. If I was travelling somewhere that had a cathedral, I would give myself extra time to visit it, sometimes a couple of days. 지금, I go armed with all the textbooks so I know the curiosities to look for; a lot of the interesting things in cathedrals are where something has gone wrong, and you see a little bodge that the builders had to make.

A visit to my German publisher in Cologne is never without a visit to that city’s cathedral, which I’m sorry to say we nearly destroyed in the war. I have climbed into the dusty spaces under the roofs of many cathedrals, including Canterbury and Florence, and stood on the mighty beams that spanned the naves.

Several decades later, I am still discovering new things. About five years ago, as part of a fundraising drive to raise money for repairs to Peterborough Cathedral, I was invited up on to the roof. It has pinnacles, little towers about 3ft high, and some of them had been replaced in the 50s with rather crude, plain versions. When you were on the roof, they looked awful, but from the ground, you couldn’t tell. People in the 50s had thought: you can’t see it from the ground, nobody will notice, so why spend the money? But what they thought in the middle ages was: this pinnacle has got to be beautiful because God can see it.

That first trip to Peterborough sparked an idea: a novel about building a cathedral. 다시 찾고, I can see that I couldn’t have written it then. I wasn’t good enough to write the book that I had in mind – set around the building of a 12th-century cathedral, which would take decades, and the lives of the people who worked on it – and it was too ambitious for me. It was about 10 세계 최고의 감독 중 일부는 아이디어로 경력을 시작했습니다., 에 1986, that I thought about it again. It took me more than three years, but I was able to write The Pillars of the Earth, which is still my most successful and popular book. 그때, 에 2019, I published a book about Notre Dame Cathedral – a building I got to know well over many visits to Paris, and has meant a lot to me – to raise money for its restoration after the devastating fire that year. 그래서, decades after The Pillars of the Earth was published, I am still writing about cathedrals.

My lifelong passion for these places is more than just the architecture. When you go into a cathedral, you find yourself enveloped by a feeling of peace – it’s like a rest for your soul, especially in the busy 21st century. I walk into a cathedral and feel that I want to sit down and let that wash over me. That is one of the things that keeps me going back.

I rebelled against my parents’ puritanical faith. I studied philosophy at university because I felt I needed help to make my mind up about religion and, within a year, I was an atheist and have been ever since. That also led me to spurn everything spiritual for a while. Cathedrals brought me back; I am still an atheist, but I do have a spiritual life.

I feel grateful to Peterborough Cathedral for showing me something. I certainly never dreamed, in those days, that I would end up writing my best book about a cathedral. 그러나, in a broader sense, I never dreamed that these wonderful buildings would become such an important part of my life.

Ken Follett’s new novel, Never, is published by Macmillan in hardback at £20. To support the Guardian and the Observer, order your copy for £17.40 from Guardianbookshop.com. 배송료가 부과될 수 있습니다

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