The Oxford Book of Aging

The Oxford Book of Aging

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Most of us today can expect to live into our seventies in reasonably good health. (In fact, the fastest growing segment of the population is the group eighty-five and older.) Yet our culture offers few convincing ways to help us find purpose in our later years. The ancient and medieval vision of aging as a mysterious part of the eternal order of things has given way to the secular, scientific, and individualistic outlook of modernity. No longer seen as a way station along life's spiritual journey, old age has been redefined as a problem to be solved by science and medicine. As a result, we have become uncertain about what it means to age. To help us make sense of our journey through life, The Oxford Book of Aging offers some two hundred and fifty pieces that illuminate the pleasures, pains, dreams, and triumphs of people as they strive to live out their days in a meaningful way. Fiction, poetry, memoirs, essays, children's stories, reflections by philosophers, historians, and psychologists, African and Japanese legends, excerpts from the Koran and the Bible, scientific and medical tracts - the variety of writings is remarkable. The excerpts shed light on the many aspects of later life, including creativity, love, memory, spiritual growth, and the value of work. The perspectives range from Schopenhauer's dark "Disillusion is the chief characteristic of old age" when we come "by degrees to see that our existence is all empty and void, " to Robert Browning's uplifting "Grow old along with me!/The best is yet to be" (a vision so idealistic that Ogden Nash was moved to write "Such a statement, certes, / Could emanate only from a youngster in his thirties"). We read Mozart's letter to his dyin father, Alice Walker's endearing "To Hell With Dying" (about the vital ties between children and the old), Annie Dillard's meditation on her mother's hands, and Mark Twain's tongue-in-cheek formula for reaching age seventy ("It has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep,
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Product details

  • Hardback | 429 pages
  • 149.86 x 208.28 x 38.1mm | 612.35g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 019507369X
  • 9780195073690

About Thomas R. Cole

About the Editors: Thomas R. Cole is Professor and Graduate Program Director at the Institute for the Medical Humanities, University of Texas Medical Branch. He is the author of The Journey of Life: A Cultural History of Aging in America, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1992. Mary G. Winkler is Assistant Professor and Associate Director of the Graduate Program in Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. She is co-editor, with Letha B. Cole, of The Good Body: Asceticism in Contemporary Culture.
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