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The hour of our death af Philippe…
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The hour of our death (udgave 1981)

af Philippe Ariès

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
618328,125 (4.17)9
This remarkable book--the fruit of almost two decades of study--traces in compelling fashion the changes in Western attitudes toward death and dying from the earliest Christian times to the present day. A truly landmark study, The Hour of Our Death reveals a pattern of gradually developingevolutionary stages in our perceptions of life in relation to death, each stage representing a virtual redefinition of human nature.Starting at the very foundations of Western culture, the eminent historian Phillipe Aries shows how, from Graeco-Roman times through the first ten centuries of the Common Era, death was too common to be frightening; each life was quietly subordinated to the community, which paid its respects andthen moved on. Aries identifies the first major shift in attitude with the turn of the eleventh century when a sense of individuality began to rise and with it, profound consequences: death no longer meant merely the weakening of community, but rather the destruction of self. Hence the growingfear of the afterlife, new conceptions of the Last Judgment, and the first attempts (by Masses and other rituals) to guarantee a better life in the next world. In the 1500s attention shifted from the demise of the self to that of the loved one (as family supplants community), and by the nineteenthcentury death comes to be viewed as simply a staging post toward reunion in the hereafter. Finally, Aries shows why death has become such an unendurable truth in our own century--how it has been nearly banished from our daily lives--and points out what may be done to "re-tame" this secret terror.The richness of Aries's source material and investigative work is breathtaking. While exploring everything from churches, religious rituals, and graveyards (with their often macabre headstones and monuments), to wills and testaments, love letters, literature, paintings, diaries, town plans, crimeand sanitation reports, and grave robbing complaints, Aries ranges across Europe to Russia on the one hand and to England and America on the other. As he sorts out the tangled mysteries of our accumulated terrors and beliefs, we come to understand the history--indeed the pathology--of ourintellectual and psychological tensions in the face of death.… (mere)
Medlem:Hookom
Titel:The hour of our death
Forfattere:Philippe Ariès
Info:New York : Knopf : distributed by Random House, 1981.
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek, Jeffrey's Books
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:JJH, God books, burial, liturgy

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The Hour of Our Death af Philippe Ariès

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In this magisterial history, Philippe Ariès presents Western Man’s changing attitudes toward death over the last thousand years. It may seem like a morbid occupation of one’s time, but Ariès has gathered a seminal representation of the West’s often inconsistent attitude toward the end of life, the afterlife, and even life itself. Although Ariès has focused mostly on French documentation, he has gone to great lengths to show how this is applicable to all of Western culture, including Britain and the United States (which obviously only comes into the picture after about 1600 AD). Ariès does a tremendous job of reconstructing the cultural milieu and viewpoints of contemporary people from the Middle Ages up till the present day. Although I found myself occasionally disagreeing with some of his cultural interpretations, I found the book immensely informative and detailed. Ariès gives a sweeping overview, but also manages to give specific information on customs and beliefs. This is both the history of hard facts and dates, and the more diffused history of culture.

Ariès divides his analysis into five categories, each concerned with broad time-periods (which tend to overlap somewhat) and specific attitudes towards death and its related cultural baggage. I will not go into each in great depth, although each is interesting in its own right; this is merely a very crude and broad overview of Ariès’s categories. The first is the Tame Death, which coincides with the early Middle Ages, and which is illustrated by the death of Roland, one of Charlemagne’s paladins. The second, the Death of the Self, is concerned with a burgeoning individuality at the end of the Middle Ages and towards the Renaissance. The third is Remote and Imminent Death, which basically covers the period from the 1500s to the 1700s. As Ariès says, ‘Where death had once been immediate, familiar, and tame, it gradually began to surreptitious, violent, and savage… death, by its very remoteness, has become fascinating…’ This is the age of the Marquis de Sade, with disturbing developments like the idea, if not the practice, of necrophilia. The fourth category is The Death of the Other, which consists of the Romantic idea of the Beautiful Death. Death has, broadly, shifted from a concern of one’s own death to a concern about the death of family and friends. Of course, these concerns have always been there, but Ariès shows how they become overpowering during this period. The final category, the Invisible Death, is concerned with contemporary attitudes towards death. Again broadly, this category covers the way in which industrialised society has banished death from everyday consciousness. Because of modern man’s more delicate sensibilities, death and its more unpleasant aspects have been removed to peripheral institutions, like hospices and funeral homes. Ariès does, however, note that in the later twentieth century, some changes are also noticeable in this attitude, as exemplified by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and other thanatologists’ attempts to re-personalise death.

The part of the book that I was most interested in was that dealing with the Macabre in art and literature. Although not necessarily an enjoyable subject, I found the 15th and 16th century attitudes towards death (or personified Death) fascinating. I found it interesting how Ariès inverts commonsensical expectations by associating the Macabre with a love of life, instead of a fascination with death. I do not completely agree with him, but I found his arguments refreshingly different.

Another place I disagreed with him was his interpretations of the Brontës’ attitude toward death. Obviously, they were quite intimately acquainted with death: they lived in a parsonage surrounded by a churchyard, after all. But I think Ariès makes some conceptual leaps when he tries to relate their literary output to their attitudes toward death. Having read most of Emily’s works, I find it somewhat reductive to say that nearly everything she wrote reflected a deep-seated morbidity. Admittedly, Ariès makes a more subtle argument than this, but I still find it dangerous to too closely tie biographical details to literary composition.

On the whole, I found Ariès’s book fascinating and even enjoyable, despite the subject matter. I think modern man is almost morbidly averse to morbidity. People fear death for many, complex reasons. Having experienced grief first-hand, I do not want to deny the power of this fear, but I would like to posit that an intense fear of death is one of the most detrimental approaches to life. As Ariès’s book shows, man has come up with many reasons to fear death. As he also shows, however, there are more to embrace it. ( )
6 stem dmsteyn | Mar 18, 2012 |
A nearly-impenetrable but exhaustively researched volume about the history, philosophy, and spirituality of death. This book examines (mostly European) funerary customs, their sources, their meanings, and the modern trajectories of archaic methods and habits. An interesting read if you're very interested in the subject, or if you've got a very long train ride (say, from Brussels to Saigon). ( )
2 stem wesh | Dec 22, 2007 |
This is a masterful, sweeping look at attitudes toward death in Western Europe, specifically France from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century. Aries examines the "Art of Dying", dying with a purpose and / or a moral lesson. He looks at the taming of Death, the sanitization and almost institutionalization of Death. The attitude toward death reveals much about a society or an individual. ( )
1 stem AlexTheHunn | Aug 15, 2007 |
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The idea of death that I shall use as the point of departure for this discussion is that of the early Middle Ages, as illustrated by the death of Roland.
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This remarkable book--the fruit of almost two decades of study--traces in compelling fashion the changes in Western attitudes toward death and dying from the earliest Christian times to the present day. A truly landmark study, The Hour of Our Death reveals a pattern of gradually developingevolutionary stages in our perceptions of life in relation to death, each stage representing a virtual redefinition of human nature.Starting at the very foundations of Western culture, the eminent historian Phillipe Aries shows how, from Graeco-Roman times through the first ten centuries of the Common Era, death was too common to be frightening; each life was quietly subordinated to the community, which paid its respects andthen moved on. Aries identifies the first major shift in attitude with the turn of the eleventh century when a sense of individuality began to rise and with it, profound consequences: death no longer meant merely the weakening of community, but rather the destruction of self. Hence the growingfear of the afterlife, new conceptions of the Last Judgment, and the first attempts (by Masses and other rituals) to guarantee a better life in the next world. In the 1500s attention shifted from the demise of the self to that of the loved one (as family supplants community), and by the nineteenthcentury death comes to be viewed as simply a staging post toward reunion in the hereafter. Finally, Aries shows why death has become such an unendurable truth in our own century--how it has been nearly banished from our daily lives--and points out what may be done to "re-tame" this secret terror.The richness of Aries's source material and investigative work is breathtaking. While exploring everything from churches, religious rituals, and graveyards (with their often macabre headstones and monuments), to wills and testaments, love letters, literature, paintings, diaries, town plans, crimeand sanitation reports, and grave robbing complaints, Aries ranges across Europe to Russia on the one hand and to England and America on the other. As he sorts out the tangled mysteries of our accumulated terrors and beliefs, we come to understand the history--indeed the pathology--of ourintellectual and psychological tensions in the face of death.

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