- Taschenbuch: 320 Seiten
- Verlag: Simon & Schuster UK; Auflage: New ed. (4. Juni 2007)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 1416502483
- ISBN-13: 978-1416502487
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13 x 0,1 x 19,8 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 1 Kundenrezension
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 134.527 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
Necropolis: London and Its Dead (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 4. Juni 2007
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"Catharine Arnold's lively stiff survey is good on the Black Death and great on the Victorian age." -- "The Scotsman"
From Roman burial rites to the horrors of the plague, from the founding of the great Victorian cemeteries to the development of cremation and the current approach of metropolitan society towards death and bereavement -- including more recent trends to displays of collective grief and the cult of mourning, such as that surrounding the death of Diana, Princess of Wales -- NECROPOLIS: LONDON AND ITS DEAD offers a vivid historical narrative of this great city's attitude to going the way of all flesh. As layer upon layer of London soil reveals burials from pre-historic and medieval times, the city is revealed as one giant grave, filled with the remains of previous eras -- pagan, Roman, medieval, Victorian. This fascinating blend of archaeology, architecture and anecdote includes such phenomena as the rise of the undertaking trade and the pageantry of state funerals; public executions and bodysnatching. Ghoulishly entertaining and full of fascinating nuggets of information, Necropolis leaves no headstone unturned in its exploration of our changing attitudes to the deceased among us.Both anecdotal history and cultural commentary, Necropolis will take its place alongside classics of the city such as Peter Ackroyd's LONDON. Alle Produktbeschreibungen
I thought it was a very good book, I couldn't put it down. It was to the point, factual but not overbearingly so. The topic is macabre, but the book manages to convey the topic in a sensitive way. I'd recommend it to people who are interested in cemeteries, funeral culture and similar topics and definitely a must-read for people who are interested in the history of London.
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In my naivete, I never gave much thought to the question of what happened to old bodies until my visit to Pere LaChaise, when I saw that they were recycling an old empty-looking vault. Of course...once the remains have disintegrated, why not re-use the precious real estate? What I didn't realize was that for centuries, people thought of their burial spot (especially in a churchyard) as leased space. They did not expect to rest in peace until the Judgment Day; they were content to occupy a plot until their body decomposed and made room for the next corpse. Apparently under normal circumstances, a person was happy to get a good 10 years in a churchyard. But as the population grew and the space was at a premium, the resting period grew shorter and shorter until bodies were being exhumed before they even had a chance to fully decompose. Where did all the throw-away bodies get dumped?
This is where the comprehension starts to break down, at least in my mind. Perhaps it just wasn't well documented, but in the reading I was stymied by the contemplation of tens of thousands of dug up bodies and coffins being carted away to somewhere. The author made it clear that Catacombs were not widely used, especially in the Middle Ages. Burning of remains created riots (in the early days), so that was not an option. I would like to have known how they dealt with this problem, but the book's concentration was on finding and creating new graveyards, while diverting the populace's attention away from overcrowded churchyards. Of course, there were also the many plagues, which overtaxed an already delicate situation.
The attitude of people toward death in the Middle Ages was much more pragmatic than our own, and it seems that the cult of death really took a turn during the 19th century. The last 2/3 of the book covered the Victorians and later, where we see the growth of the whole funeral industry up to its most extreme (and expensive) excesses. Grand new cemeteries were built outside the city by landscape architects designed to be enjoyed by the living; specially constructed trains carried mourners great distances to the funerals that took place in the adjoining chapels. World War I put an end to the showy funerals and extended mourning periods, as suddenly there were no bodies to bury (if the dearly departed was a soldier), and not enough time to waste on extravagant shows of grief.
This interesting book gives us many anecdotal examples of related issues, such as body snatchers and suicides, abuses and putrefaction beneath chapel floors, the development of cremation. Although it left a lot of questions unanswered, Necropolis proved a good read from beginning to end.
* The fact that Arnold manages to balance historical accuracy with interesting, descriptive and detailed writing.
* Arnold does not use a great deal of technological language or five dollar words in this book. She writes to the audience of average readers rather than academic specialists.
* While detailed Arnold does not take this book into the zone of the gruesome penny dreadful novel or "yellow journalism" reflecting the era's she is writing about.
* She properly sources her information rather than simply listing her references at the end of the book.
Overall this book is highly recommended for anyone interested in the study of history, especially if they are interested in the history of pre-World War II London.