In The Kindness of Strangers, John Boswell argues persuasively that child abandonment was a common and morally acceptable practice from antiquity until the Renaissance. Using a wide variety of sources, including drama and mythological-literary texts as well as demographics, Boswell examines the evidence that parents of all classes gave up unwanted children, "exposing" them in public places, donating them to the church, or delivering them in later centuries to foundling hospitals. The Kindness of Strangers presents a startling history of the abandoned child that helps to illustrate the changing meaning of family.
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The author of the widely acclaimed Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality (LJ 6/1/80) has now given us this original and fascinating work on abandoned children. It should be made available to every student of medieval and early modern Europe. And at a time when abortion, child abuse, and abandonment are much in the news, the book should have broad general interest. Abandonment of children--by leaving them, selling them, or consigning them to someone else--was practiced from Greek antiquity to early modern times by parents of all social classes, because of poverty, incest, shame, self-interest, inheritance, or to improve the child's future. Most children were rescued and survived due to "the kindness of strangers." Based on a careful exploration of ancient and medieval sources, this book will deservedly win a wide audience.
- Bennett D. Hill, Georgetown Univ., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Highly original, learned, and skillfully written. . . . A mine of fascinating and surprising information about every aspect of the history of family limitation in ancient, medieval, and Renaissance Europe." (Bernard Knox New York Review of Books)
"A formidably learned, ingenious, at times eloquent investigation. Professor Boswell is a young historian of rare force and originality." (George Steiner New Yorker)
"Bold, original and, very likely, controversial. . . . This is a pioneering work of large importance, the first to map out and explore a tangled, mysterious region of human experience." (Mary Martin McLaughlin New York Times Book Review)
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Book Description Pantheon, 1989. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Hardcover and dust jacket. Fine binding and cover. Clean, unmarked pages. Ships daily. Bookseller Inventory # 1301260097
Book Description Pantheon, 1989. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0394572408
Book Description Pantheon, 1989. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0394572408
Book Description Pantheon, 1989. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110394572408