Death in the Victorian Family

Death in the Victorian Family

by Patricia Jalland, Pat Jalland
     
 

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This engrossing book explores family experiences of dying, death, grieving, and mourning between 1830 and 1920. Victorian letters and diaries reveal a deep preoccupation with death because of a shorter life expectancy, a high death rate for infants and children, and a dominant Christian culture. Using the private correspondence, diaries, and death memorials of… See more details below

Overview

This engrossing book explores family experiences of dying, death, grieving, and mourning between 1830 and 1920. Victorian letters and diaries reveal a deep preoccupation with death because of a shorter life expectancy, a high death rate for infants and children, and a dominant Christian culture. Using the private correspondence, diaries, and death memorials of fifty-five middle and upper class families, Pat Jalland shows us how dying, death, and grieving were experienced by Victorian families, and how the manner and rituals of death and mourning varied with age, gender, disease, religious belief, family size, and class. She examines deathbed scenes, good and bad deaths, funerals and cremations, mourning rituals, widowhood, and the roles of religion and medicine. Chapters on the deaths of children and old people demonstrate the importance of the stages of the life-cycle, as well as the failure of many actual deathbeds to achieve the Christian ideal of the good death. The consolations of Christian faith and private memory, and the transformation in the ideas and beliefs about heaven, hell, and immortality are analysed. The rise and decline of Evangelicalism, the influence of unbelief and secularism, falling mortality, and the trauma of the Great War are all key motors of change in this period.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is by far the best account we have of elite Victorian attitudes toward dying and death....[It is] a book rich in telling detail, sensitive to its subjects, a very important contribution to a growing literature on death and dying."--Victorian Studies

"...in both depth and breadth this is a valuable contribution to Victorian social history, revealing the rich diversities and intriguing implications in the social construction of a universal and inevitable physiological process."--American Historical Review

"Well conceived, organized, and written..."--Choice

"This book deserves a wide audience for its thoughtful and thoroughly professional approach to a topic of vital contemporary concern and interest."--The Catholic Historical Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780198208327
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
01/28/2000
Pages:
496
Sales rank:
1,170,405
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.10(d)

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