Children Remembered discusses the relationship between parents and children in the past. It focuses on the ways in which adults responded to the untimely deaths of children, whether and how they expressed their grief. The study engages with the hypothesis of ‘parental indifference’ associated with the French cultural historian Philippe Ariès by analysing the changing risk of mortality since the sixteenth century and assessing its consequences. It uses paintings and poems to describe feelings and emotions in ways that are not only highly original, but also challenge traditional disciplinary conventions. The circumstances of infant and child mortality are considered for France and England, while example portraits and poems are selected from England and America. While the work is firmly grounded in demography, it is especially concerned with current debates in social and cultural history, with the history of childhood, the way pictorial images can be ‘read’, and the use as historical evidence to which literature may be put. This is a wide- ranging and ambitions multi-disciplinary study that will add significantly to our understanding of demographic structures; the ways in which they have conditioned attitudes and behaviour in the past.
This is an exceptional book.
Richard M. Smith