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Sleeping Beauty II: Grief, Bereavement in Memorial Photography American and European Traditions [Hardcover]

by Stanley Burns, Elizabeth A. Burns
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The proprietor and curator of the Burns Archive, a large collection of early medical and 19th-century documentary photography in New York, Stanley Burns and his daughter, Elizabeth, have produced a sumptuous volume of beautifully reproduced postmortem photographs, expanding on his 1991 volume, Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America. Photographs from 15 countries, ranging from the earliest daguerreotypes to present-day color snapshots, show that since the invention of photography survivors have sought to fix their memory of deceased loved ones. These disturbing and strangely beautiful images depict children and adults, famous people and those buried en masse, as well as advertising photographs for a mortuary, a World War I German grave marker, and an Afghan hound in its satin-lined casket. Carrying on the tradition, Burns and his brother are photographed in 1995 with their deceased father, and some photographs depict the communal grieving that resulted from the 2001 World Trade Center bombing, capturing posters, prayer walls, and memorials. With essays and picture titles in both French and English, this book is comprehensive and unique. Highly recommended for photohistory collections and those dealing with anthropology, sociology, and the history of medicine.
Kathleen Collins, Bank of America Corporate Archives, San Francisco
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Burns Collection Ltd; 1 edition (August 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 096129583X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0961295837
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 9.2 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #551,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sleeping Beauty II ~~ Post Mortem at its Finest~~~ August 19, 2004
If you are interested in historical Post Mortem, then this book is for you.

High quality hard cover book with a black dust jacket.

I have it and i love it~~ I purchased it in late summer early fall of 2002 when it first came out.

The first book is valuable, i wish i could acquire it or afford to someday~~

meanwhile i am happy with the second version.

hope that they put out a third version someday~~

Some people might think that this is eerie, to say the least.

But folks back in the 1800's had little or no money for photos of the living~~

And many people died young back then~~ medicine was still in its infancy so there was not much for cures...

Taking a photo of the deceased was the last earthly time that one would see that person...

So I do understand the need....

Photos of Parents or Parent with Child seem most revered by collectors...

any way, it's a beautiful book, worthy of its subject~~
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Morbid Beauty December 2, 2006
An absolutely brilliant collection of mortuary photography compiled by the one and only Stanley Burns. The collection is wide-ranging and the photographs range from bland to poignant to artistic to anthropological to fascinating to creepy with stops at all points in between. This collection compiles the original set of images originally released in the hard-to-find and long out-of-print first edition (Sleeping Beauty), and the images are well-known from their inclusion as part of the "Book of the Dead" in the brilliant movie The Others. Burns documents as much as is known about each photograph, littering his commentary with insightful anthropological details that explain the motivation behind the images, and their supreme importance to the people who had them taken. An extraordinary work.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking images! April 14, 2005
Having grown up with postmortem photography in my family albums, and raised by two Victorian German-Polish Americans, this subject did not seem taboo to me. Both Stanley Burns and Jay Ruby(Secure the Shadow) recognize that these photos are shocking to some, however once over any shock you might feel, the images tell so much more than that of living images..just like any archeological,anthroplogical study..we always learn more from the dead than the living. If you already collect postmortem items, this book will save a lot of money as he has collected the images for you! I only wish the first Sleeping Beauty would go to reprint, heck you have to take out a bank loan to get one! Another good one I mentioned earlier is Jay Ruby's "Secure the Shadow". I am currently buying Michael Lesy's "Wiconsin Death Trip" and would need another bank loan to grab James Van Der Zee's "Harlem Book Of the Dead"..If anyone has a copy of Sleeping Beauty, the first one..and just doesn't want it around the house 'cause it is morbid and they want to sell it fast and ..well..cheaper..LET ME KNOW!!! Dawn.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Early Post Mortem Photography September 7, 2008
This book is a sequel to the surprisingly influential but little seen book "Sleeping Beauty;Post Mortem Photography in America" by Stanley Burns, M.D.

Of course with a subject matter such as this, the potential for exploitation and cheap thrills must be addressed. Let me clarify that this is a scholarly work by a medical doctor. He puts the history and concept of Memorial Photography into a social, cultural and intimate familial context which defies the more lurid aspects of the images. Each beautifully reproduced image spans a full page, and contains a thoughtful description by the authors of why, where and for whom the photogtaph was taken. Some of the images are especially beautiful and poignant; particularly Plates #4,5,9,14,102,111,113 and 114.

The scope of this book is much larger than the original Sleeping Beauty, both in terms of time and geography. European Post Mortem Photography is introduced here, as well as forms the art has taken in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. See the amazing plate #77 of Mad King Ludwig from Bavaria, who was likely killed by his own subjects for spending the nation's wealth on fanatastic architecural works like a vast underground lake filled with swans!

The book was being finished around the time of the Terrorist Attacks on 9/11/01, and the author felt compelled to include the use of photographs as memorials to the victims of that attack whose bodies would never be recovered. So ironically the book closes with an inversion of the original concept of the post mortem photograph;the photograph as symbol and stand-in for the deceased, or more accurately "Memento Vita." This is a common use of photographs in current funerary practice.

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