In this pioneering and important book, Philippe Aries surveys children and their place in family life from the Middle Ages to the end of the eighteenth century. The first section of the book explores the gradual change from the medieval attitude to children, looked upon as small adults as soon as they were past infancy, to the seventeenth and eighteenth century awareness of the child as the focal point of family life. Aries goes on to examine the schooling of children and the development of modern educational methods. In the second section, he describes the metamorphosis of the family: at first the family was a unit in which everything was open and public and children mingled with adults in the social life of the community; eventually the family become a closed or private society, within which children had a unique and important status.
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(216mm x 138mm x 28mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
'Before the 17th century there was no such thing as childhood,' writes Adam Phillips in his introduction to this new edition of a classic work. Thirty years ago historian Aries pointed out that in the Middle Ages children were treated as 'miniature adults', as we often see in early portraits of distinguished families. The concept of childhood has a history, he reveals, beginning in the 17th century, when children first became visible, worth considering as new objects of pleasure and worthy of being 'schooled for adulthood'. The second part of this book describes the consequent development of their education. In the last section the growth of the family from medieval to modern times is analysed: particularly fascinating reading now that family life appears to be on the decline. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Philippe Aries
Philippe Aries was born in Blois in 1914. He studies at the Sorbonne and later became an expert on tropical agriculture. This he found only modestly absorbing and consequently took up historical research, describing his experiences in this area, in his autobiography, Un historien du dimanche. His first interest was in demography, the starting point for his book, Centuries of Childhood and for an earlier work Histoire des populations francaises. His later and more controversial works, focusing on the subject of death, include Western Attitudes Towards Death and The Hour of Our Death. All Aries' books are outstanding examples of the discoveries which historians can make when they decide to concentrate on what Balzac claimed should be the province of the novel: that of writing the history of manners and of man's perception of himself. Phillipe Aries died in February 1984.