Death is the one certainty in life, yet, with the decline of religion in the West, we have become collectively reluctant to talk about it. Our contemporary rituals seek to sanitise death and distance us from our own inevitable fate. If we want to know how previous generations dealt with death, graveyards (famous and not) tell us the history -- if we are able to read them. If we want to know how we struggle today with understanding or facing up to death, then graveyards provide a starting point. And, if we want to escape the present taboo on acknowledging our mortality and contemplate our own end, then graveyards offer a rare welcome.
From Neolithic mounds to internet memorials via medieval corpse roads and municipal cemeteries, war graves and holocaust memorials, Roman catacombs, Pharaonic grave-robbers, Hammer horrors, body-snatchers, Days of the Dead, humanist burials and flameless cremations, Stanford shows us how to read a graveyard, what to look out for in our own, and how even the most initially unpromising exploration can enthral.
Table Of Contents
1. The Scavi, Rome
2. The Catacomb of Saint Callixtus, Rome
3.St Margaret's Church, Burnham Norton, Norfolk
4. Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh
5. Pere-Lachaise, Paris
6. Il Cimitero Acattolico, Rome
7. Paddington Old Cemetery, London
8. Deane Road Jewish Cemetery, Liverpool
9. The Commonwealth War Graves, northern France
10. Chiltern Woodland Burial Park, Essex
11. Last Words
Glossary of terms
Peter Stanford is a writer, broadcaster and biographer, whose books include biographies of Lord Longford, C Day-Lewis, and the Devil and the travelogue, The Extra Mile. A former editor of the Catholic Herald, he writes for The Daily Telegraph, The Independent on Sunday and The Observer and has a regular column in The Tablet
Stanford is an elegant, evocative writer who takes us with him - stylish, fluent, with dash and insight.
Stanford writes movingly about the pull of the past, recognising that in hard times, the path of enlightenment becomes an appealing road-trip.
Stanford.s sometimes humorous account comprises an intriguing investigation of what faith might mean in our apparently secular age.
- London Review of Books