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Angels and Absences: Child Deaths in the Nineteenth Century Hardcover – April 1, 1997

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Editorial Reviews


. . . engaging, humane, deftly phrased, and freshly observant...shows a seasoned literary critic at work on a fascinating problem exemplified in an array of imaginative and documentary texts.
--Herbert Frederick Tucker, University of Virginia

Lerner's excursions around the literature of child death are well conducted, and his comments good. . . . His book can be read, browsed and reread with enjoyment and profit.
--Times Literary Supplement

. . . an outstanding study that contains as good a discussion and analysis of the important subject of sentimentality as I know of.
--Robert M. Polhemus, Stanford University

About the Author

Laurence Lerner has taught at the University of Sussex and has served as the Edwin W. Mims Professor of English at Vanderbilt University, from which position he recently retired. He has written a number of important works, including The Frontiers of Literature (Blackwell, 1988), Love and Marriage: Literature and Its Social Context (St. Martin's, 1979), and a collection of poems, Rembrandt's Mirror (Vanderbilt, 1987).

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press; 1st edition (April 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826512879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826512871
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,232,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Charles H. Levenson on December 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This volume is supposed to give the reader an overview of the effects of child mortality in the 19th century,on parents,siblings,society..It is supposed to do so through the use of personal journals,letters,and,to a great degree the role of the popular fiction of the time,sentimental as it was.For those interested in this subject the promise here with this book is great...Alas,what one gets instead is a mind-deadening dose school-masterish tedium.Here is an example;
After commenting on the fact that William Canton,a little remembered and even less read author wrote about the deaths of his two daughters the author of this volume,Laurence Lerner comments as follows(and the following comment is but one example of what takes place throughout the book)
;"...next to this winsome narrative I now place a sophisticated piece of theory..Paul Ricoeur's distinction between the semiotic and the semantic is useful here.When a text is analyzed as a self-contained unit,as it is by structuralism,its elements are understood only in relation to one another,,that is,as a system of signs defined by their differences alone;This is the semiotic.Semantic analysis regards the text not as closed in on itself but as opening out unto other things and semantic understanding is to understand oneself in front of the text...'(PAGE #20)....
Say what?
This is SUPPOSED to be a book about the effects of child mortality in the 19th century...so why then does author Lerner veer so often,away from this topic in order to subject the reader to paragraphs like the one quoted above?Maybe
because he was the EdwinW.
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