The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains

The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains

The Greek thinker Diogenes stated that after he died his physique could be tossed over the town partitions for beasts to scavenge. Why may still he or somebody else care what grew to become of his corpse? In The paintings of the Dead, acclaimed cultural historian Thomas Laqueur examines why humanity has universally rejected Diogenes's argument. No tradition has been detached to mortal continues to be. Even in our supposedly disillusioned medical age, the lifeless physique nonetheless matters--for participants, groups, and international locations. A remarkably formidable historical past, The paintings of the useless offers a compelling and richly exact account of the way and why the dwelling have cared for the useless, from antiquity to the 20 th century.

The e-book attracts on an unlimited variety of sources--from mortuary archaeology, clinical tracts, letters, songs, poems, and novels to portray and landscapes so that it will recuperate the paintings that the useless do for the dwelling: making human groups that attach the earlier and the long run. Laqueur indicates how the churchyard turned the dominant resting position of the useless in the course of the heart a long time and why the cemetery principally supplanted it in the course of the sleek interval. He strains how and why because the 19th century now we have come to collect the names of the useless on nice lists and memorials and why being buried with no identify has turn into so aggravating. and at last, he tells how smooth cremation, began as a delusion of stripping dying of its background, eventually failed--and how even the ashes of the sufferers of the Holocaust were preserved in culture.

A attention-grabbing chronicle of the way we form the lifeless and are in flip formed by means of them, it is a landmark paintings of cultural history.

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