Buried Alive

Buried Alive

3.5 2
by Jan Bondeson
     
 

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"A necrobibliac classic: it may keep you up all night—not from fear but from fascination."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Readers of Edgar Allan Poe's tales—just think of The Premature Burial—may comfort themselves with the notion that Poe must have exaggerated: surely people of the 1800s could not have been at risk of being buried

Overview

"A necrobibliac classic: it may keep you up all night—not from fear but from fascination."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Readers of Edgar Allan Poe's tales—just think of The Premature Burial—may comfort themselves with the notion that Poe must have exaggerated: surely people of the 1800s could not have been at risk of being buried alive? But such stories filled medical journals as well as fiction, and fear in the populace was high. It was speculated, from the number of skeletons found in horrific, contorted positions inside their coffins, that ten out of every one hundred people were buried before they were dead. With over fifty illustrations, Buried Alive explores the medicine, folklore, history, and literature of Europe and the United States to uncover why such fears arose and whether they were warranted. "A weird and wonderful little tome."—Salon.com "Bondeson weaves a strange disturbing, and weirdly enthralling tale. Cremation never sounded so good."—Lingua Franca "A most useful and entertaining book....Deserves a place on every bedside table in America."—Patrick McGrath, author of Martha Peake: A Novel of the Revolution

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393322224
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
03/01/2002
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
322
Sales rank:
420,671
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.72(d)

Meet the Author

Jan Bondeson, a physician, holds a Ph.D. in experimental medicine and works at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology in London.

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Buried Alive 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found Jan Bondeson's study of the societal, medical, and folkloric background of the fear of live burial to be both informative and wildly entertaining. I had heard of such things as the Bateson Belfry coffins fitted with bells, and I'd been thoroughly puzzled by the waiting mortuary described in Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi but I was totally ignorant of how widespread the phobia of live burial truly was. The Bateson Belfry was by no means the only so-called safety coffin offered, and there really were buildings in Germany where the dead were kept until they displayed either signs or life or signs of putrefaction. The simple fact that the medical profession around the turn of the 18th/19th century couldn't agree on what constituted an infallible sign of death was enlightening and fascinating (a young physician won a prestigious prize for suggesting that the absence of a detectable heartbeat proved death). If at times it seemed that Bondeson was repeating himself, it was because the AntiPremature Burial hysterics were always repeating the same old stories as proof that their fears were justifiable. The Lady With the Ring was brought up so often that she was practically a running joke. I enjoyed this book thoroughly, and it's well written enough (unlike this review!) to be easily re-readable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was very excited when I got this book. But by the third chapter I realized the author aparently run out of ideas making this book very long and boring. It seems like I was reading the same over and over, for the next 5 or 6 chapters. Very disappionting.