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How to Read a Graveyard Hardcover – 12 Nov 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Continuum; 1 edition (12 Nov. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441179771
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441179777
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.7 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

The rituals and architecture surrounding graveyards offer a fascinating glimpse into how we view our own mortality --The Telegraph

About the Author

Peter Stanford is a writer, broadcaster and biographer, whose books include biographies of Lord Longford, C Day-Lewis, and the Devil and the travelogue, The Extra Mile. A former editor of the Catholic Herald, he writes for the Daily Telegraph, the Independent on Sunday and the Observer and has a regular column in the Tablet.
www.peterstanford.co.uk


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Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stanford is a writer I know as a Catholic, so I wondered at the way this might affect his writing on graveyards: to the good, is my answer ,for as a writer he is a determinedly ecumenical, as likely to be moved by and praise the nonCatholic/attolica cemetery in Rome as I learned here as he is Catholic ones. I thought it was called the Protestant Cemetery and it isn't - useful to know. (Gramsci is here, for starters; so are Shelley's ashes; so is Goethe's son, noting him as such but not giving his name, making the great German seem a little less likeable). Stanford is well informed but doesn't overload you with information; he will help you to enjoy the few graveyards he concentrates on and extend the 'reading' to others. This is not, though, a How to Read A Graveyard, as in decoding or dumbed down iconography. It has things to say on such, but it is primarily an expansion of the clever opening symbol that is the introduction: him becoming acquainted with the local graveyard in walking his dog in one of the few remaining areas of greenery in the Big City. He grows to like it, know it and wants to 'share' it. So, the book is his small, daily journey writ large, with him leading us on a larger journey, actual and symbolic. He walks around some favourites and your taste will develop, wanting to know more. As his did
He seems a nice man, a good companion, commendably moved by what he finds and this is a clever, elegant little book. 'Reading' a graveyard? Well not quite...ironically it is better than a sort of simple key. It is a rather deeper trip than that.
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Format: Hardcover
The introduction to this book makes no claim for it to be comprehensive, but it emerges as much more than a useful tool for those of us who have looked up at the high walls of many a cemetery with a murmur of trepidation. Living as close as I do to Paradise by way of Kensal Green (G.K.Chesterton), where incidentally sections of the old Victorian brick wall along the Harrow Road have toppled to create great gaps through which ALL passers by can now stare easily, I have often taken children for walks there and implored them not to be afraid. Stanford's book reminds passers by of all ages about the unexpected beauty as well as solemnity of these places. His highly personalised take following his own explorations of ten specific European burial places persuades both the vigorous and the weary, and the unwitting in their cars stuck on the A404, or the A316 past Mortlake, to take a fresh look and see these places for prompting startling revelations about our own place in the city and in relation to our fellow man. After all we are all going to need to help each other deal with death at some stage sooner or later and the more prepared we are to see the glass half-full rather than half-empty the better. Now that so many ceremonies passed down thanks to religion have been swept aside we are going to need to be even stronger in our own contemplation.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We love genealogy so rarely pass an old graveyard without peeking in. This book gives interesting guidance to the many old grave stones that can be seen. A must for anyone who loves a wander round a graveyard.
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Format: Hardcover
The author states at the beginning of this book that his objective in researching and writing this book was to explore how our current, sanitised views on death differ from those of our ancestors, how our views developed and to cause the reader to consider these. It worked for me; it was a pleasent read that also caused me to consider my own mortality.
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I studied the development of cemeteries for my dissertation for a Masters Degree and have also been involved in recording gravestones for over 20 years - so I consider I am fairly well qualified in the subject of graveyards and cemeteries. The book wasn't quite as I expected from the title and I don't think it is the correct title to describe the contents. However, I learnt facets of the subject I knew little about in some chapters and enjoyed reading the chapters of which I had knowledge. Overall, it has inspired me to get back to my own studies on the subject.
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Knowing a little about the subject (I live near the marvellous Brookwood Cemetery) I approached this book full of anticipation, and was not disappointed. Peter Stanford is a skilled and knowledgeable writer - as per his earlier authoriship (Lord Longford biog., et al) and former editorship of the Catholic Herald. Not only does Stanford gives us a basic guide to the symbolism on grave memorials and funeral rights - but much much more. If for nothing else, read this book for the first two chapters - but having read them you will not be able to put the book down.
I loved it and have recommended it to many others - I've even lent my own copy out - not something I do lightly. You will start 'boring' you friends with little snippets from the book - but a little knowledge is never a bad thing - I say.
The only slight, and it is very slight, criticism is the 26 photographs in the book - although listed and labelled at the front are not captioned under each plate throughout the book.
The whole book is a joy to read, full of interesting facts - and no printer's typos !!!!
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