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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Moderate wear on cover. Pages clean. Binding strong.
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Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life Paperback – July 12, 1965

3.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French

About the Author

About the Author:
The late Philippe Aries was also the author of Centuries of Childhood.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (July 12, 1965)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394702867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394702865
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
During the sixties (those were the times!) this was probably the most influential book on education. The funny thing is, that actually it is not at all about education, but its history and how our Western understanding of childhood as a concept has evolved. For everyone who uses to take for granted the values of a sheltered childhood and a period of prolonged 'innocence', it must come as a surprise, how relatively recent, in historical terms, these developments actually had been. In such light, the medieval society and even the Renaissance look very alien, like people from a distant planet. They had a custom to exchange their children in a network of chartered apprenticeships. Once a little sucker had passed the critical age of five and was deemed to be ready to fend for itself, it became time to learn the way of the world, and to be rented out to service at the tables of a trade or of landed nobility. Only a select few received rudimentary tuition and set out on an aca!demic career, which meant years of vagrancy and the open road between Universities and urban centers of learning. As for the pre-school age, the child was a sexless, almost nameless piece of livestock and roamed the townships in street gangs, wore an undistinguished piece of garb, rummaged the garbage dumps and contributed to the family's income with petty theft and beggary. It never washed, hunkered down to torture an unfortunate beetle or wrenched a cat's tail; it learned to drink small beer, in order to escape the diarrhea that lurked in every well. It was on a race against measles, small pocks, diphtheria, and crippling polio, and the odds weren't good. Parents preferred not to involve themselves too emotionally in the frequent deaths of their small ones. A little thing had died, sad, but a replacement is already under way.Read more ›
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Purchased this for research for my Masters degree. The author is French and it was translated from French. Much of his research involved childhood in France, specifically. An excessive amount of time is spent "proving" that children were considered the same as adults by the time spent playing similar games such as chess, which did not impress me as sufficient proof that children were considered no different than adults. Surely children were disciplined, instructed, given patience as they learned. All children imitate adults, even now in this generation, but that does not mean that they are considered to be no different than adults. The sexually charged court diary of Louis XIII from his infancy to childhood is meant to be proof that all children were handled, permitted to have sexual relations as young boys and explore adult women's bodies randomly; I cannot accept that as truth that all children were treated this way. Rather, the graphic and exaggerated descriptions of the little boy's sexual escapades--could it not be that they were exaggerated for the purpose of displaying to the public that this little boy deserved to be King based on his accomplished sexual performance at such a young age? Indeed, all his talents appear to be exaggerated by his caregivers, and could we expect nothing less of the caregivers of a young prince in France during that period in history? Image was everything. The little guy needed to appear super human as well as well endowed in order to impress upon the country that this little boy deserved to be King. The author of the book does not appear to see through this veneer of Court praise. Instead, he seemed enthralled himself that this little prince of France was so sexually accomplished and knowledgeable at such a young age.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Philippe Ariés' Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life examines the origin and evolution of the contemporary conceptions of childhood and the family in Europe. However, Ariés derives most of his sources from France and England. While this monograph's intended audience is the general academic community, the author's writing ability makes it accessible to most of the educated public. The stated purpose of this text is to determine whether the family has a medieval or more recent origin.
The author's central thesis is that the concepts of childhood and the family are relatively new ideas. According to Ariés, the modern concept of childhood did not exist during the Middle Ages. Essentially, European's during this period viewed children as small adults as soon as they were no longer dependent on their mothers for weaning. According to the author, this occurred about the age of seven. Over the next several centuries, this began to change due to the evolution of the educational system. So, by the 18th century, a more familiar version of childhood had emerged. The author relies on secular and religious literature, paintings, sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, poems, songs, memoirs, and academic codes to support this argument. This monograph is an example of the third generation of the Annales school's emphasis on mentalities.
This book's primary emphasis is on events that take place between the 10th and 19th century. There are three charts located in the middle of this monograph, but it is otherwise free of graphic aids. This text also includes a brief section of endnotes and a short index. Ariés divides this work into three sections.
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