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Western Attitudes Toward Death: From the Middle Ages to the Present Paperback – 31 Jan 1972

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Marion Boyars (31 Jan. 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714525510
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714525518
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 0.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 99,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Ariès traces Western man's attitudes toward mortality from the early medieval conception of death as the familiar collective destiny of the human race to the modern tendency, so pronounced in industrial societies, to hide death as if it were an embarrassing family secret." -- Newsweek

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Philip Ariés was a social historian whose books Centuries of Childhood and At the Hour of our Death won great acclaim when first published in France, England and the United States.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is a translation of a series of lectures which Philippe Aries gave in America and, as a result, unfortunately contains no references. Having said this, however,it is easy to read and follow. His observations are astute, and highly original. The study focuses on his previous research around Paris but draws interesting parallels to English material and charts the changing perceptions of self with funerary culture. He develops the hypothesis that changing monumental trappings and inscriptions can reveal a "Psychoanalysis of History", showing how people viewed their own death and the death of another from the medieval through industrial and up until present. Of interest to any academic or amateur historian interested in the development of individualism or funerary history.
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Format: Paperback
I initially started reading this for a "Sex and Death" class I took at school. Amazingly, "Western Attitudes Towards Death" has been one of the most inciteful books I've ever read. Aries makes it interesting to look at death in a historical aspect. For me, it was most interesting in the fact that you can see how people lived during a specific time period by studying how they viewed death. The parallels between life and death in EVERY society has become astonishingly clear to me. It's short reading...definately in a day...and well worth the time.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent analysis of our attitudes and reactions towards death. A good read, for those interested in the theme. I highly recommend it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9cc2b570) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cfe0090) out of 5 stars Different Perspective of History 10 July 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I initially started reading this for a "Sex and Death" class I took at school. Amazingly, "Western Attitudes Towards Death" has been one of the most inciteful books I've ever read. Aries makes it interesting to look at death in a historical aspect. For me, it was most interesting in the fact that you can see how people lived during a specific time period by studying how they viewed death. The parallels between life and death in EVERY society has become astonishingly clear to me. It's short reading...definately in a day...and well worth the time.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d077804) out of 5 stars a conspiracy of silence 24 Mar. 2005
By a pilgrim revolutionary - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
i had a certain agenda in reading this book . . . there is a conspiracy of silence regarding death in america/europe.

aries takes the reader on a morbid but a fascinating journey through western history of death. the conclusion is that death has become the "new pornography" (quoting gorer) in a modern/enlightenment based societies. death is the great scandal in the western culture where everything is, or at least hoped to be in the future, controlled by the development of science. but death lies beyond that hope. at least that's my take on it.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Paul A. Nelson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fantastic read - both brief and accessible as well as informative and challenging. Phillipe Aries' seminal study of how the treatment of death and dying has changed dramatically in Western Civilization should provoke the reader to think about death as more than something to be avoided, but something to be anticipated.

In American culture obsessed with youth, death has been shoved into the closet to be peeked at only when absolutely necessary. We deny our own mortality, hiding our advancing years with surgeries and fad diets and fashion and promiscuity. Effectively, we are completely un-equipped to handle death, whether someone else's or our own. We not only don't wish to think about it, we can't. It's hidden, and we are supposed to deny ourselves even the visible grief which a true loss of any kind merits. We are often expected to be more emotional about a damaged vehicle or a bad meal or a rude person in traffic than we are when dealing with the death of a loved one.

Read and learn. Read and re-evaluate the wisdom of such intentional ignorance, and what you might wish to do differently for yourself and for those around you whenever the time comes to shuffle off this mortal coil.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d1a91e0) out of 5 stars A mixed review 8 Sept. 2013
By Priscilla Stilwell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I feel that the book is too short. In the noble attempt to give a short overview, the author touches much but leaves us feeling less informed at the conclusion than before we knew about the book's existence. Some of the criticism might be attached to the translation, so I cannot hold the author exclusively responsible.

I might be inclined to read the author's larger work on the subject in order to get more in-depth and actually understand what he's trying to say. But I fear that at the end I would be left with the same unanswered questions which would just frustrate me.
HASH(0x9d0a70c0) out of 5 stars Excellent discussion on an issue that deserves greater attention 5 May 2012
By Carlos F. Pardo V - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a classic, and it has all the merit to be one. The author did a very thorough study of how death was understood for most of history starting from earlier than the middle ages, and presents customs and points of view that one wouldn't expect of western civilization, human beings or the catholic church. Where, how and why cemeteries were built, how people thought and acted upon deathbeds and the more recent attitude towards death and its relation to hospitals are some beautiful discoveries that the author provides clearly, without pushing any of the issues at all, but definitely convincing(at least me).
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