The Greek thinker Diogenes said that when he died his body should be tossed over the metropolis partitions for beasts to scavenge. Why should he or anyone else care what turned of his corpse? In The Work of the Lifeless, acclaimed cultural historian Thomas Laqueur examines why humanity has universally rejected Diogenes’s argument. No custom has been indifferent to mortal stays. Even in our supposedly disenchanted scientific age, the lifeless body nonetheless points—for individuals, communities, and nations. A remarkably formidable historic previous, The Work of the Lifeless presents a compelling and richly detailed account of how and why the dwelling have cared for the lifeless, from antiquity to the twentieth century.
The book attracts on an unlimited range of sources—from mortuary archaeology, medical tracts, letters, songs, poems, and novels to painting and landscapes with a objective to recuperate the work that the lifeless do for the dwelling: making human communities that be a part of the earlier and the future. Laqueur reveals how the churchyard turned the dominant resting place of the lifeless all through the Middle Ages and why the cemetery largely supplanted it all through the fashionable interval. He traces how and why since the nineteenth century we have come to gather the names of the lifeless on good lists and memorials and why being buried with no determine has become so disturbing. And ultimately, he tells how fashionable cremation, begun as a fantasy of stripping dying of its historic previous, lastly failed—and the approach even the ashes of the victims of the Holocaust have been preserved in custom.
A fascinating chronicle of how we type the lifeless and are in flip shaped by them, this could be a landmark work of cultural historic previous.
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