"The most comprehensive multidisciplinary contemplation of mortality we are likely to get."—Thomas Lynch, New York Times Book Review
Prominent critic, poet, and memoirist Sandra M. Gilbert explores our relationship to death though literature, history, poetry, and societal practices. Does death change—and if it does, how has it changed in the last century? And how have our experiences and expressions of grief changed? Did the traumas of Hiroshima and the Holocaust transform our thinking about mortality? More recently, did the catastrophe of 9/11 alter our modes of mourning? And are there at the same time aspects of grief that barely change from age to age?
Seneca wrote, "Anyone can stop a man's life but no one his death; a thousand doors open on to it." This inevitability has left varying marks on all human cultures. Exploring expressions of faith, burial customs, photographs, poems, and memoirs, acclaimed author Sandra M. Gilbert brings to the topic of death the critical skill that won her fame for The Madwoman in the Attic and other books, as she examines both the changelessness of grief and the changing customs that mark contemporary mourning. 25 illustrations.
"Drawing on history, literature, and contemporary culture, Death's Door is far more than a memoir. It is a sprawling, sophisticated, and somber meditation on mortality and mourning in America."—Boston Globe
"Comforting in the extreme....[A] meticulously researched, comprehensively organized, exceptionally caring examination of society's attitudes about mortality and mourning."—Booklist
"Neither triumph nor requiem, Gilbert's is a sensitive and sensible masterpiece."—Library Journal, starred review
"Witnesses her sublime ability to transform anger and pain into courage and enlightenment."—Journal of the American Medical Association
"A work of profound literary scholarship."—Washington Post
About the Author:
Sandra M. Gilbert is the author of seven books of poetry and co-editor of The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women. A professor of English at the University of California, Davis, she lives in Berkeley.