[Milton-L] Source (death poems, infant mortality, etc.)

Jameela Lares jlares at ocean.otr.usm.edu
Sat Jan 31 06:35:40 EST 2004

On Thu, 29 Jan 2004, Boyd M Berry wrote:

> My understanding is that in cultures with high infant mrotality, that
> parents commonly do not name or address mortal infants.  Jonson's poems
> have always struck me as odd for that reason.  But the pattern of not
> addressing the deaths of close relatives may be an echo of that
> distancing.

There's indeed a school of thought that posits a revolution in feeling
toward children--Lawrence Stone, Philip Aries, et al.--but it has
inevitably been challenged by a "continuist" school that insists that
people have always pretty much loved their offspring.  Joan Acocella
recently published a review of a Yale social history series, and she
particularly looks at the two interpretations of data on affective
attitudes toward children (_The New Yorker_, August 18-25, 2003).  
Acocella more or less concludes (or at least reports someone else as
concluding) that it is impossible to determine the state of past emotions,
since we only have certain kinds of records to go by.

Jameela Lares
Associate Professor of English
Univ. of So. Mississippi
118 College Drive #5037
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001
+601 266-6214

More information about the Milton-L mailing list