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Suicide in the Middle Ages: Volume 2: The Curse on Self-Murder: The Curse on Self-murder Vol 2 Hardcover – 8 Jun 2000
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'Book of the year chosen by Eric Christiansen (The Spectator)
'No other work on the history of thought and action touches it' (Spectator)
Fascinating comments on medieval law and culture ... This is a book of breathtaking learning, full of insights on a great range of aspects of medieval culture, not least because, as Murray so brilliantly shows, the issue of suicide threw up so many paradoxes and anomalies within legal and ethical systems of thought and practice. An extraordinary, if daunting, second volume to the trilogy: Paradiso is eagerly awaited. (Journal of Ecclesiastical History)
Murray's description of Emile Durkheim's book on suicide can be applied to his own monumental work - 'long, cogent, lucid and unobtrusively tender'. (English Historical Review)
This is an astonishing and very individual work. Its range and erudition are prodigious. Monumental labour and great fixity of vision and purpose will have been needed to create it. The grand design is kept in view all the time while the interlocking subordinte parts and arguments move forward. (English Historical Review)
We could hope for no better guide. (Margaret Atkins, The Tablet,)
It will become the definitive study almost as a by-product. (Contemporary Review)
His most excellent dissection of the body of the judiciary in post-Conquest England cuts through records of coroners and the eyre rolls, as well as King's Bench in Westminster ... Suffice to say, his explication of legal records is nothing less than brilliant ... This is truly a history book for historians; without the slightest hint of depression (albeit with a shiver at the description of volume three on pg. 345). I devoured it with a good strong claret before the fireplace. (David Lederer, The Medieval Review)
It is infinitesimal (at times obsessive) in its concern for detail and its three-volume size is in part explained by the stubborn insistence of the author to include every scrap of information relevant to his inquiry, leaving few stones unturned. What other English-language publisher indulges historians to that extent these days? Further, anyone who doubts Murray's initial promise of three volumes is quickly dissuaded by specific references to subsequent volumes in the footnotes. (David Lederer, The Medieval Review)
While the verdict of compos mentis is pending on the remaining two, if they are of the quality of the first, then this three volume study will represent a landmark in medieval history, as well as the sub-field of suicide history. (David Lederer, The Medieval Review)
About the Author
Alexander Murray is at University College, London. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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If you are a fan of British understatement and irony you might admire Alexander Murray's style of writing. He manages to treat his subject with respect and style. And yes, there is also a little bit of black humour in here. A highly morbid and enjoyable piece of literature.
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