Explores Victorian responses to death and burial in literature, journalism, and legal writing.
Literary Remains explores the unexpectedly central role of death and burial in Victorian England. As Alan Ball, creator of HBO's Six Feet Under, quipped, "Once you put a dead body in the room, you can talk about anything." So, too, with the Victorians: dead bodies, especially their burial and cremation, engaged the passionate attention of leading Victorians, from sanitary reformers like Edwin Chadwick to bestselling novelists like Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Thomas Hardy, and Bram Stoker. Locating corpses at the center of an extensive range of concerns, including money and law, medicine and urban architecture, social planning and folklore, religion and national identity, Mary Elizabeth Hotz draws on a range of legal, administrative, journalistic, and literary writing to offer a thoughtful meditation on Victorian attitudes toward death and burial, as well as how those attitudes influenced present-day deathway practices. Literary Remains gives new meaning to the phrase that serves as its significant theme: "Taught by death what life should be."