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History is always to hand

Douglas Johnson, 8 December 1988

Notre Siècle: 1918-1988 
by René Rémond.
Fayard, 1012 pp., frs 190, February 1988, 2 213 02039 6
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Histoire de la Vie Privée: De la Première Guerre Mondiale à nos Jours 
edited by Philippe Ariès and Georges Duby.
Seuil, 634 pp., frs 375, May 1988, 2 02 008987 4
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France since the Popular Front: Government and People 1936-1986 
by Maurice Larkin.
Oxford, 435 pp., £30, July 1988, 0 19 873034 9
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France Today 
by John Ardagh.
Penguin, 647 pp., £6.95, June 1988, 0 14 010098 9
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... In his novels, the late Gwyn Thomas used to refer to those who frequented the pubs and cafés of small Welsh towns as ‘the voters’. It would certainly be the way to describe the adult population of France who, last spring, voted twice to elect a President (on 24 April and 8 May) and twice to elect a Parliament (on 5 and 12 June). In September they voted in local elections, and in November the referendum on the future of New Caledonia took place ...

Women beware midwives

Tom Shippey, 10 May 1990

The Medieval Woman 
by Edith Ennan, translated by Edmund Jephcott.
Blackwell, 327 pp., £32.50, November 1989, 9780631161660
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Not of woman born: Representations of Caesarean Birth in Medieval and Renaissance Culture 
by Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski.
Cornell, 204 pp., $27.95, March 1990, 0 8014 2292 2
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Childhood in the Middle Ages 
by Shulamith Shahar.
Routledge, 342 pp., £35, May 1990, 0 415 02624 5
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Lovesickness in the Middle Ages: The Viaticum and its Commentaries 
by Mary Wack.
Pennsylvania, 354 pp., $39.95, February 1990, 9780812281422
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Barbarolexis: Medieval Writing and Sexuality 
by Alexandre Leupin, translated by Kate Cooper.
Harvard, 261 pp., £27.95, July 1990, 0 674 06170 5
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... if things went on too long. Successful birth, of course, was not the end of a mother’s worries. Philippe Ariès suggested thirty years ago that because of demographic conditions in the Middle Ages, parents learnt not to invest too much emotional capital in their children before it became clear that they stood a fair chance of reaching useful adult ...

Men’s Honour, Women’s Lives

Peter Burke, 6 March 1986

Trial by Impotence: Virility and Marriage in Pre-Revolutionary France 
by Pierre Darmon, translated by Paul Keegan.
Chatto, 234 pp., £10.95, March 1985, 9780701129149
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The Boundaries of Eros: Sex, Crime and Sexuality in Renaissance Venice 
by Guido Ruggiero.
Oxford, 223 pp., £25, March 1985, 0 19 503465 1
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The Tuscans and their Families: A Study of the Florentine Catasto of 1427 
by David Herlihy and Christiane Klapisch-Zuber.
Yale, 404 pp., £32, March 1985, 0 300 03056 8
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Women, Family and Ritual in Renaissance Italy 
by Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, translated by Lydia Cochrane.
Chicago, 338 pp., £25.50, September 1985, 0 226 43925 9
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French Women in the Age of Enlightenment 
edited by Samia Spencer.
Indiana, 429 pp., $35, November 1984, 0 253 32481 5
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... the subject and to examine the attitudes embedded in social and legal practice. The late Philippe Ariès, for example. Or Jean-Louis Flandrin, whose study Le Sexe et l’Occident (1981) is a collection of essays on changing attitudes which well deserves translation. But Darmon is not in the Flandrin class. Nor is Guido Ruggiero, although his ...

Dying to Make a Point

Shadi Bartsch: Death and the Ancients, 15 November 2007

Death in Ancient Rome 
by Catharine Edwards.
Yale, 287 pp., £25, June 2007, 978 0 300 11208 5
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The Death of Socrates: Hero, Villain, Chatterbox, Saint 
by Emily Wilson.
Profile, 247 pp., £15.99, August 2007, 978 1 86197 762 5
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... thinkers from John Donne to Schopenhauer have mounted various lines of defence. But in general, as Philippe Ariès argued in The Hour of Our Death, we now generally treat death not as the ultimate test of our courage or convictions, but as the inevitable and unpleasant culmination of our waning years. From the sociological point of view, we tend to ...

The Subtleties of Frank Kermode

Michael Wood, 17 December 2009

... we encounter an essay on the consciousness of death in the West, as imagined and reconstructed by Philippe Ariès. Have we come upon a theme after all? Not quite. But we have found a region where our understanding is not only severely tested but put in its place. Death is like painting in this respect. It does ‘the real talking’, as Kermode says of ...

Lifting the Shadow

V.G. Kiernan, 15 April 1982

Death and the Enlightenment: Changing Attitudes to Death among Christians and Unbelievers in l8th-Century France 
by John McManners.
Oxford, 619 pp., £17.50, November 1981, 0 19 826440 2
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Mirrors of Mortality: Studies in the Social History of Death 
edited by Joachim Waley.
Europa, 252 pp., £19.50, October 1981, 0 905118 67 7
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... like Bremond, Vovelle, Le Bras, Morin and, of course, the doyen of contemporary authorities, Philippe Aries. Waley’s introduction emphasises the antithetical viewpoints represented by Ariès, whose observations ‘are never related to any demographic or economic background’, and Vovelle, with his meticulous ...

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