By Esther Schor
Esther Schor tells us concerning the endurance of the useless, approximately why they nonetheless topic lengthy when we emerge from grief and settle for our loss. Mourning as a cultural phenomenon has turn into opaque to us within the 20th century, Schor argues. This booklet is an attempt to get well the tradition of mourning that thrived in English society from the Enlightenment throughout the Romantic Age, and to recapture its which means. Mourning looks right here because the social diffusion of grief via sympathy, as a strength that constitutes groups and is helping us to conceptualize heritage.
In the textual and social practices of the British Enlightenment and its early nineteenth-century heirs, Schor uncovers the ways that mourning mediated among bought principles of advantage, either classical and Christian, and a burgeoning, property-based advertisement society. The movement of sympathies maps the capability wherein either valued issues and values themselves are dispensed inside a tradition. Delving into philosophy, politics, economics, and social historical past in addition to literary texts, Schor lines a shift within the British discourse of mourning within the wake of the French Revolution: What starts off which will impact an ethical consensus in society becomes a method of conceiving and bringing forth background.
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Extra info for Bearing the Dead: The British Culture of Mourning from the Enlightenment to Victoria
Since, Smith asserts, there is no way in which we can remediate the situation of the corpse, we strive through continuous sympathy “artificially to keep alive” the idea of the dead:24 The tribute of our fellow-feeling seems doubly due to them now, when they are in danger of being forgot by every body; and, by the vain honours which we pay to their memory, we endeavour, for our own misery, artificially to keep alive our melancholy remembrance of their misfortune. That our sympathy can afford them no consolation seems to be an addition to their calamity; and to think that all we can do is unavailing, and that, what alleviates all other distress, the regret, the love, and the lamentations of their friends, can yield no comfort to them, serves only to exasperate our sense of misery.
Later, like Pope’s Lady, Elegia would be helped to overcome her unfortunate associations with vice; her eroticism would be reinterpreted as domestic affection; and finally, if she made little reference to public morals, she would nonetheless be deemed capable of inculcating them in others. The century of tears would open with Trapp citing Horace on the elegy’s shady origins,12 but by mid-century, Elegia would preside— among her comforters—in the salon. The Bowl and the Urn Writing about elegy in the 1740s, Shenstone would analogize the pleasures of the urn with those of the bowl: “[Elegy] .
Smith’s metaphorical economy of British morals in the 1759 Theory of Moral Sentiments—as one might expect, corollary tropes of a moralized economy would appear in the 1776 Wealth of Nations—licensed a new esteem for literary mourning, for by promoting social homogeneity, mourning figuratively filled both the hearts and the coffers of the nation. This chapter argues that textual mourning is the rhetorical praxis for which Smith’s concept of a dynamic, circulating, sympathetic culture of mourning is the theory.
Bearing the Dead: The British Culture of Mourning from the Enlightenment to Victoria by Esther Schor