Download Epub Format Ó Death's Door: Modern Dying and the Ways We Grieve: A Cultural Study PDF by Ê Sandra M. Gilbert Front Cover Bleak, cold pic of an empty room and a door where you can t see beyond.
Back Cover Reviews from journals such as the Washington Post Library Journal Includes author summary professor at UC Davis in California.
Inside Many accolades from people like Joyce Carol Oates Journal of the Amer Medical Assn.
Topics Hospitals, Rituals, History of how death has been perceivedTone Lofty, Intellectual big words , Dense Text, Poems Quotes IncludedContent This is not a practical guide for navigating hospitals and funeral homes, but rather an all encompassing overview of how various groups in the world handle this rite of passage.
Part of my personal preparation for a death course I m teaching in fall semester This book provides a wealth of references to literature concerned with the topics of death and dying, particularly focused on the manner of grieving in Western culture.

One would expect that a book that calls itself Modern Dying and the Ways We Grieve would discuss just such things Perhaps it would be an anthropological study or, as the misleading library information on its credits page suggests, explore the social aspects of death Instead, Death s Door is an uneasy mixture of literary analysis and personalI hesitate to say essay, because the thoughts, events, and remembrances in the memoir like portions of the book are rarely complete It is as if the author is driven to confess the dark thoughts that plagued her after her husband s death and yet can t bring herself to actually provide the reader with enough information to actually grasp what happened to him and how she felt about it Or perhaps, having covered that information in another book, she didn t feel the need to recap it here.
Either way, the personal parts of each chapter are muchcompelling than the readings Gilbert offers of the snatches of poems reprinted here The usual suspects are trotted out again and again Thomas Hardy, Sylvia Plath, D H Lawrence, William Carlos Williams She has limited herself to poetry and occasionally prose that directly addresses the author s loss Why that means she s limited to analyzing work that is generally 50 years old oris less clear She references Paul Monette and some of the other survivors of the AIDS plague without giving them as much weight as heterosexual survivors from earlier in the century What this means, then, is that Gilbert s definition of modern does not mirror mine She mentions the effects of 9 11 on modern American only in the Preface and again in her final chapter, but the reference feels like an afterthought, perhaps suggested by an editor in an attempt to attach the book to the present.
Taking the book as it stands, I would have preferred to read the source poems Gilbert discusses, rather than picking my way through her selected passages a line here, a stanza there I feel that I don t know enough context from the poems or from the poets lives to know if the citations actually fit Gilbert s theories And because she won t be honest about her own life, I don t trust her to be honest in what she s sharing.
Although I have a reasonably large library devoted to death, dying, and grief including several anthologies of poetry on the subject I did not find Death s Door Modern Dying and the Ways We Grieve a useful addition of my collection Perhaps, if you re a death obsessed English major who misses the days of being lectured to, this is the book for you Otherwise, don t be lured by its title.
Gilbert not only shares her personal experience with loss but shows how others have used poetry, photography, and other artistic expressions to work through their grief To anyone who believes in bibliotherapy, poetry therapy, and the power of writing to heal, this book is an incredible academic resource For This book is a remarkable piece of scholarship Sandra Gilbert set out to explore how poets write elegies to the dead, and how that writing has changed over the years She analyzes poems by DH Lawrence, Thomas Hardy, Sylvia Plath, William Carlos Williams, Robert Lowell, Robert frost, TS Eliot, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Donald Hall, and Wallace Stevens, and that is only the beginning If a poet has written about death and what poet hasn t Sandra Gilbert has read and pondered their work But along the way her subject ran away with her, and snowballed She reminisces about the death of her own husband some of thetouching parts of the book , and contemplates medieval art, the Holocaust, medical technologies, roadside shrines to the dead, the trenches of WWI, the AIDS epidemic, the American funeral business, and 9 11 I think that if anything at all has been written about death, Ms Gilbert has read it At times I thought the sheer weight of the evidence made the book something of a ponderous slog to get through, despite Ms Gilbert s obvious intelligence and sensitivity I also thought the muchness of it all sometimes made it difficult to follow the thread of her argument But this is it In the past, society had a view of death as expiration, or the breathing out of the soul, which would ascend to God This view was accompanied by rituals which brought comfort, mostly religious rituals And the poetry of the time had religious imagery, or pastoral imagery with references to classical gods The modern view of death is that of termination, a complete ending The industrialization and dehumanization of death delivered on a massive scale by wars and other disasters has made the old consolations useless Modern writers write about death in the form of bearing witness They describe the brutality, the horror, the specifics of how the death happened, and they recall details of the life of the deceased Is there any consolation Well, not really But the last word is that facing up to the reality of death, looking clear eyed at that door through which our loved ones vanish, and through which the pain of widowhood or other loss enters our lives, is a kind of victory in itself.
If you are interested in how modern humans approach dying and grief through poetry then this is a great read.
For me, a qualified really liked it Exhaustively researched but a bit too much of an academic read for most people, I imagine Gilbert is a fine poet and her inquiries into the work of poets such as Plath, Dickinson, and Whitman are profound it s also an intriguing idea to explore the how of the ways modern grieving developed through several avenues She looks at psychology, social attitudes, war, religion, science, politics, and literature and how all of these including economic impulses and media have contributed to current U.
S cultural concepts of the best way to die or even to talk about death in mixed company.
All the same, I found much of the prose tedioustoo many direct quotes squashed together as evidence, a peculiar chronology, and some repetition of key ideas that the scholarly reader doesn t need Her examination of our ambiguous, fraught, embarrassed attitudes is welcome, even spot on I d nevertheless prefer a prose with fewer rhetorical questions Maybe the problem for me is her attempt to bring in the personal with the scholarly those readers who prefer the former may want to read her memoir Wrongful Death instead.
For nerdy types interested in philosophy, poetry, and sociology, her bibliography is to die for My to read list is now about 30 books longer than it was.
A few reviewers refer to a letter of William Butler Yeats in which he stated that sex and the dead are the only topics of interest to a serious and studious mood Sandra M Gilbert famously tackled the former in her landmark study of women writers, The Madwoman in the Attic coauthored with Susan Gubar, 1979 Following the death of her husband as a result of medical malpractice, Gilbert picked up an academic study of elegies she had begun in the 1970s and created this graduate seminar on mourning Harper s Critics praise this extraordinarily learned rumination on the nature of death for its empathetic tone and its refusal to resort to navel gazing With death in vogue in entertainment circles from Six Feet Under to The Year of Magical Thinking , Gilbert delivers a book as ageless as its subject.
This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.
Prominent Critic, Poet, And Memoirist Sandra M Gilbert Explores Our Relationship To Death Though Literature, History, Poetry, And Societal Practices Does Death Change And If It Does, How Has It Changed In The Last Century And How Have Our Experiences And Expressions Of Grief Changed Did The Traumas Of Hiroshima And The Holocaust Transform Our Thinking About Mortality More Recently, Did The Catastrophe Of Alter Our Modes Of Mourning And Are There At The Same Time Aspects Of Grief That Barely Change From Age To Age Seneca Wrote, Anyone Can Stop A Man S Life But No One His Death A Thousand Doors Open On To It This Inevitability Has Left Varying Marks On All Human Cultures Exploring Expressions Of Faith, Burial Customs, Photographs, Poems, And Memoirs, Acclaimed Author Sandra M Gilbert Brings To The Topic Of Death The Critical Skill That Won Her Fame For The Madwoman In The Attic And Other books, As She Examines Both The Changelessness Of Grief And The Changing Customs That Mark Contemporary Mourning not a feel good, summer beach read kind of book, but so far, fairly interesting i am appreciating the way the author combines memoir with the tools of literary and cultural analysis to discuss her own experience of grieving as well as the history of elegies and cultural traditions of loss it s a nice change from some of the other books i ve started on grieving and mourning, which I ve found to be not very well written and consisting mostly of touchy feely personal accounts of death Sometimes critical distance can be just as therapeutic.