Buried Alive: The Terrifying History of Our Most Primal Fear

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2002 - Medical - 320 pages
Readers of Edgar Allan Poe's tales--just think of The Premature Burial--may comfort themselves with the notion that Poe must have exaggerated: surely people of the 1800s could not have been at risk of being buried alive? But such stories filled medical journals as well as fiction, and fear in the populace was high. It was speculated, from the number of skeletons found in horrific, contorted positions inside their coffins, that ten out of every one hundred people were buried before they were dead. With over fifty illustrations, Buried Alive explores the medicine, folklore, history, and literature of Europe and the United States to uncover why such fears arose and whether they were warranted. "A weird and wonderful little tome."--Salon.com "Bondeson weaves a strange disturbing, and weirdly enthralling tale. Cremation never sounded so good."--Lingua Franca "A most useful and entertaining book....Deserves a place on every bedside table in America."--Patrick McGrath, author of Martha Peake: A Novel of the Revolution "A necrobibliac classic: it may keep you up all night--not from fear but from fascination."--Kirkus Reviews starred review.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ElizaJane - LibraryThing

This book is not what I thought it would be but that ended up being ok. The subtitle does accurately tell the book's main topic: the history of "the fear" of premature burial. The book is labelled as ... Read full review

BURIED ALIVE: The Terrifying History of Our Most Primal Fear

User Review  - Kirkus

Grave matters are treated with wit and erudition in this study of premature burial throughout Western history, from physician Bondeson (The London Monster, 2000, etc.).When one 18th-century French ... Read full review

Contents

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Page 16 - I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word Would harrow up thy soul; freeze thy young blood ; Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres; Thy knotted and combined locks to part, And each particular hair to stand on end, Like quills upon the fretful porcupine : But this eternal blazon must not be To ears of flesh and blood : — List, list, O list!
Page 9 - Worm — these things, with the thoughts of the air and grass above, with memory of dear friends who would fly to save us if but informed of our fate, and with consciousness that of this fate they can never be informed — that our hopeless portion is that of the really dead...

About the author (2002)

Jan Bondeson, M.D., also holds a Ph.D. in experimental medicine. He is the author of "A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities" & other works.

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