Death's door : modern dying and the ways we grieve

by Gilbert, Sandra M.

Format: Print Book 2006
Availability: Available at 1 Library 1 of 1 copy
Available (1)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Mezzanine - Non-fiction HQ1073.G54 2006
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Mezzanine - Non-fiction
Call Number  HQ1073.G54 2006
Prominent critic, poet, and memoirist Sandra M. Gilbert explores our relationship to death though literature, history, poetry, and societal practices. Does death change;and if it does, how has it changed in the last century? And how have our experiences and expressions of grief changed? Did the traumas of Hiroshima and the Holocaust transform our thinking about mortality? More recently, did the catastrophe of 9/11 alter our modes of mourning? And are there at the same time aspects of grief that barely change from age to age? Seneca wrote, "Anyone can stop a man's life but no one his death; a thousand doors open on to it." This inevitability has left varying marks on all human cultures. Exploring expressions of faith, burial customs, photographs, poems, and memoirs, acclaimed author Sandra M. Gilbert brings to the topic of death the critical skill that won her fame for The Madwoman in the Attic and other books, as she examines both the changelessness of grief and the changing customs that mark contemporary mourning.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "In 1991, Gilbert lost her husband of 33 years after a relatively routine operation. Ten years later, the nation lost thousands of its citizens in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. To answer the question of how we as individuals cope with death on personal, societal, and even universal levels, Gilbert parses the poetry of Plath, Lawrence, Tennyson, and Rossetti, among others. Their work imbues the mourner's remorse and despair with solemnity and majesty, and in so doing, elevates grief to lyrical heights. Originally planned simply as a literary critique of poetic elegies, Gilbert's study grew in scope to include interviews, so that she pairs critical analysis with observations by contemporary survivors--herself included--to reveal the plain and plaintive honesty that makes first-person accounts so compelling. Gilbert's understanding of and empathy for the panoply of emotions and rituals surrounding death are comforting in the extreme. Those who have experienced the death of a loved one will recognize themselves in this meticulously researched, comprehensively organized, and exceptionally caring examination of society's attitudes about mortality and mourning. --Carol Haggas Copyright 2005 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Many readers will relate to Gilbert's grief following the unexpected loss of her husband in 1991: "death suddenly seemed... urgently close, as if the walls between this world and the `other' had indeed become transparent." In the process of mourning, the acclaimed coauthor of Madwoman in the Attic returned to a project she had abandoned in the early 1970s and invested it with the candor of recent loss. The resulting m?lange of literary criticism, anthropology and memoir looks at death across time and culture: in the Nazi concentration camps, 9/11, and the 21st-century "hospital spaceship," as well as through photographs, paintings and poetry. "Like the sun, death can't be looked at steadily," wrote La Rochefoucauld, heralding the modern view of the matter. (The medievals, in contrast, thought the process of dying was much scarier than death itself.) For Gilbert, the passage from a Christian theology of "expiration" to a modern "(anti)theology of `termination' " is best embodied in the poems of Whitman and Dickinson. Her close readings of our cultural history will entrance anyone interested in an intelligent analysis of the ways we grieve. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Death -- Social aspects.
Mourning customs.
Publisher New York :W.W. Norton,2006
Edition 1st ed.
Language English
Description xxv, 580 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages [525]-553) and index.
ISBN 0393051315
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