Premature Burial: How It May Be Prevented

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Hesperus Press, Mar 28, 2013 - History - 147 pages
Addressed to a petrified Victorian society, this spine-chilling volume, long of out print and here republished in a modern edition, brings together a collection of unnerving stories of live burials and narrow escapes. An assortment of anecdotes based on historical materials and real accounts, Premature Burial was written to reassure or warn nineteenth-century readers concerned about being buried alive. This was seemingly an alarmingly frequent occurrence; one of the book’s authors himself, Dr Vollum, had narrowly escaped live sepulture after almost drowning. Gruesome stories abound: desperate men and women attempting to claw their way out of coffins; a family tradition of stabbing dead bodies in the heart to prevent live burial that results in a father stabbing his own daughter (who turned out to have been alive). There are also the more cheery tales of apparently dead bodies waking in the middle of their own funerals and accounts of last minute miracle reprieves. The authors uncovered a truly fearsome number of stories and gathered a large amount of scientific detail from a multitude of countries. Presenting detailed descriptions of a coffin that detects a breathing 'corpse’ and sounds an alarm and giving the specifics of a waiting mortuary staffed twenty-four hours a day in which 'dead’ bodies are given a chance to come round (or putrefy), Premature Burial offers potential solutions as well as terrifying anecdotes.

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