Relics of Death in Victorian Literature and Culture

Relics of Death in Victorian Literature and Culture

4.15 (20 ratings by Goodreads)
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Nineteenth-century Britons treasured objects of daily life that had once belonged to their dead. The love of these keepsakes, which included hair, teeth, and other remains, speaks of an intimacy with the body and death, a way of understanding absence through its materials, which is less widely felt today. Deborah Lutz analyzes relic culture as an affirmation that objects held memories and told stories. These practices show a belief in keeping death vitally intertwined with life - not as memento mori but rather as respecting the singularity of unique beings. In a consumer culture in full swing by the 1850s, keepsakes of loved ones stood out as non-reproducible, authentic things whose value was purely personal. Through close reading of the works of Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Thomas Hardy, and others, this study illuminates the treasuring of objects that had belonged to or touched the dead.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 261 pages
  • 150 x 230 x 14mm | 390g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 16 Halftones, unspecified; 16 Halftones, black and white
  • 1107434394
  • 9781107434394
  • 1,168,482

Table of contents

Introduction: lyrical matter; 1. Infinite materiality: Keats, D. G. Rossetti and the Romantics; 2. The miracle of ordinary things: Bronte and Wuthering Heights; 3. The many faces of death masks: Dickens and Great Expectations; 4. The elegy as shrine: Tennyson and 'In Memoriam'; 5. Hair jewelry as congealed time: Hardy and Far from the Madding Crowd; Afterword: death as death; Bibliography.
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Review quote

'... Lutz's study invites us to re-consider the centrality of grief and the persistence of mourning across nineteenth-century art and literature.' Michael J. Sullivan, Tennyson Research Bulletin '... Lutz supplies a fascinating discussion of the many ways besides lockets of hair that Victorians preserved parts of their loved ones' corpses as relics. ... Lutz reveals that death was an intimate part of life for Victorians - not ghastly and Other, as it is for us.' Sarah Gates, Dickens Studies Annual
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About Deborah Lutz

Deborah Lutz is an Associate Professor of Victorian Literature and Culture at Long Island University, C. W. Post Campus. She is the author of Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism (2011) and The Dangerous Lover: Gothic Villains, Byronism, and the Nineteenth-Century Seduction Narrative (2006).
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Rating details

20 ratings
4.15 out of 5 stars
5 30% (6)
4 55% (11)
3 15% (3)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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