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Sleeping Beauty II: Grief, Bereavement in Memorial Photography American and European Traditions 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0961295837
ISBN-10: 096129583X
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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.

Review

"A thing of morbid beauty and fascination..." - New York Press 


"These private mementos of death have fallen into the public...They have lost their memorial function on the individual level, and have instead become a memorial to the cultural practice." - Speak Magazine
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Burns Archive Press; 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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,722,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. DONERIAN on August 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My wife raved about both of the Sleeping Beauty books. She is an avid reader in the subject. She is even considering becoming a funeral director. I often think of the movie 'The Others' when I glance across this book since they found an album of Victorian death photos in the house. Since photography was still in its infancy in the late 1800s, you won't be seeing 20 mega pixel renderings of vivid colors, but the publisher did a wonderful job at scanning and printing the photos 'as is'. It's almost like you can smell the age of the paper. Of course you can not since they are re-printed scan of photos, but the look of the images tries to trick the mind into filling in the missing senses.

Burns seems to have a wonderful feel for how to portray an interesting period in history without creeping you out over the subject matter of the photos. I would like to investigate his other works and see if I enjoy them as much.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Another beautiful volume from the Burns Archive. Extraordinary photos and text. These are my most favorite books of my vast library. I cannot recommend them highly enough for people who appreciate gorgeous books with transcendent and moving photos. If you just want gore or want to see dead bodies get on the internet. These books are not meant for you.
It would be lovely if they would reprint all three so as to be more affordable to most people. And it's my opinion more people should get to view these one of a kind treasures. Death should not be made mysterious or taboo or hidden away, never talked about. I'm a licensed embalmer and funeral director. I should know. Better than most.
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