A History of Private Life, Volume III (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
A History of Private Life: Passions of the Renaissance is the third volume in a history of private life from antiquity to the twentieth century. Published in France between 1985 and 1987, the five volumes of this series have been appearing in English translation at the rate of one volume a year. The first volume ranged from pagan Rome to Byzantium in the tenth and eleventh centuries; the second focused on the medieval world and the beginnings of the Renaissance. Volume 4, overlapping slightly the volume under review, will span the period from the French Revolution to World War I, and the final installment will bring the survey up to the late twentieth century.
This ambitious project was initiated by the late Philippe Aries, whose pioneering studies showed how some of the fundamental constants of human experience have been perceived in radically different ways in the course of Western history. Although he died before the project was completed, Aries is credited as coeditor of the series, with the medievalist Georges Duby; volume 3 includes an introduction by Aries. Each volume in the series consists of essays by several writers. While the contributors worked in collaboration, with their essays designed to complement one another, they explicitly disavow any attempt at comprehensive coverage. The volumes are lavishly produced, with a central section of color plates as well as black-and-white illustrations scattered liberally throughout the text. At...
(The entire section is 1444 words.)
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