From Sin to Insanity: Suicide in Early Modern Europe by Jeffrey R. WattFrom Sin to Insanity: Suicide in Early Modern Europe by Jeffrey R. Watt

From Sin to Insanity: Suicide in Early Modern Europe

EditorJeffrey R. Watt

Hardcover | September 9, 2004

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In the broadest treatment yet of suicide in Europe during the period 1500–1800, eleven authors combine elements of social, cultural, legal, and intellectual history to trace important changes in the ways Europeans experienced and understood voluntary death. Well into the seventeenth century, Europeans viewed suicide as a terrible crime and an unforgivable sin resulting from demonic temptation. By the late eighteenth century, however, suicide was rarely subject to judicial penalties, and society tended to blame self-inflicted death on insanity rather than on the devil.

From Sin to Insanity shows that early modern Europe witnessed nothing less than the birth of modern suicide: increasing in frequency, self-inflicted death became decriminalized, secularized, and medicalized, viewed as a regrettable but not shameful result of reversals in fortune or physical or mental infirmity. The ten chapters focus on suicide cases and attitudes toward self-murder from the fifteenth to the early nineteenth centuries in geographical settings as diverse as Scandinavia and Hungary, France and Germany, England and Switzerland, Spain and the Netherlands.

Contributors: Donna T. Andrew, University of Guelph; Machiel Bosman, Amsterdam; James M. Boyden, Tulane University; Elizabeth G. Dickenson, University of Texas at Austin; Arne Jansson, Stockholm; Craig Koslofsky, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; David Lederer, National University of Ireland, Maynooth; Vera Lind, German Historical Institute; Jeffrey Merrick, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Paul S. Seaver, Stanford University; Jeffrey R. Watt, University of Mississippi

Title:From Sin to Insanity: Suicide in Early Modern EuropeFormat:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.33 inPublished:September 9, 2004Publisher:CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801442788

ISBN - 13:9780801442780

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Editorial Reviews

"It is rare that a collection of essays is so well focused and well presented. The authors explore uncharted territory, studying parts of Europe that previously attracted no modern social histories of suicide. Their groundbreaking analyses suggest how rich the subject and the materials really are. In each case new sources the authors have uncovered suggest fresh approaches and questions."—H. C. Erik Midelfort, University of Virginia, author of A History of Madness in Sixteenth-Century Germany