The Culture and Art of Death in 19th Century America
By D. Tulla Lightfoot
Death was a very important topic in the 19th century Victorian world (unlike our world, where death is sanitised and hidden in a most unhealthy fashion). This was a world of mediums, of family portraits taken with deceased family members. It had more than the hint of Edgar Allan Poe to it.
The book is beautifully written and researched; the author delves deeply into the art and photography of death of the period. It represents a yearning in my opinion to create a kind of visual immortality of the departed. We are all basically the same and this should resonate with us all.
My favourite part of the book is the section on Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle investigating mediums. There are also some excellent illustrations that illuminate the text.
A most interesting book, one that would form the basis for an excellent documentary.