Angels and absences: child deaths in the nineteenth century by Laurence Lerner

By Laurence Lerner

What's the distinction among private and non-private feeling, and the way a long way do we deduce previous emotions from the phrases which have been left us? Why do baby deaths determine so frequently and so prominently within the literature of the 19th century, and the way used to be the subject of the loss of life of a kid used to elicit such poignant responses within the readers of that period? during this interesting new booklet, Laurence Lerner vividly contrasts the contempt with which 20th- century feedback so usually dismisses such works as mere sentimentality with the keenness and tears of nineteenth-century contemporaries.Drawing examples from either genuine and literary deaths, Lerner delves into the writings of recognized authors comparable to Dickens, Coleridge, Shelley, Flaubert, Mann, Huxley, and Hesse, in addition to lesser identified writers like Felicia Hemans and Lydia Sigourney. within the approach, he synthesizes clean principles concerning the thorny matters of sentimentality, aesthetic judgment, and the functionality of faith in literature.Lerner's forthright and evocative prose variety is pleasant interpreting, and he excels in teasing out the ethical implications and the psychosocial entanglements of his selected narrative and lyrical texts. it is a e-book that might light up an immense element of the background of personal existence. it may have huge program for these attracted to the heritage, sociology, and literature of the 19th century.

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Why was Dickens so fascinated by girls on the threshold between childhood and womanhood? Chapter 4 looks at other novelists, studies the variations that can be played on the theme of child death, and asks why it is so prominent in nineteenth century fiction, when it was so rare earlier. One answer looks at what is happening in terms of actual child mortality and draws on what is known about the demographic history. It is easy to make bold claims about this, and after making one I conclude the discussion rather skeptically.

ChildrenGreat BritainMortality- -History19th century. 4. American literature19th century- -History and criticism. 5. Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870Characters- -Children. 6. ChildrenDeathPsychological aspects. 7. Sentimentalism in literature. 8. Children in literature. I. Title. 9'3548'09034dc2197-4572 CIP Manufactured in the United States of America Page v to Wayne Booth Page vii Contents List of Illustrations ix Preface xi 1 Real Deaths 1 2 Strategies of Consolation: The Dead Child in Poetry 40 3 The Life and Death of Paul Dombey, and Other Child Deaths in Dickens 82 4 Heaven Claims Its Own: Child Deaths in Nineteenth Century Fictionand After 126 5 Sentimentality: For and Against 174 Conclusion 213 Notes 223 Bibliography 239 Index 249 Page ix List of Illustrations (following page 113) 1.

Whereas the writer may well have been present at the funeral, we are now, as the passage goes out of its way to make plain, dealing with hearsay. ). The conventionalized style, though it deprives us of authenticity, could be thought of as a way of making Page 9 the intrusion less impertinent, as if we are seeing a Leopold who already conforms to a stereotype and so to a more public role. His true grief is, then, left private. And are we being told the truth? The question thrusts itself upon us when we compare the accounts of Leopold with those of his father-in-law.

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