Reading the Gravestones of Old New England


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About the Book

The graveyards of old New England hold a great range of poetic messages in the epitaphs etched into the gravestones, each a profound expression of emotion, culture, religion, and literature. These epitaphs are old, but their themes are timeless: mourning and faith, grief and hope, loss, and memory. This book tells the story of a years-long walk among gravestones and the insights gained. It identifies the source texts and authors chosen for these stones; interprets something of the beliefs of the people who did the choosing; offers some ideas on the ways these texts were accessible in remote towns and villages; gives a summary of the religious context of the times; and reflects on how the language and literature chosen for these epitaphs express conflicted and evolving attitudes towards life, death, and eternity.

About the Author(s)

John G.S. Hanson has given numerous presentations and written several articles on the subject of his epitaph research. He is an executive at an internet services company and lives in Tyringham and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic Details

John G.S. Hanson

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 254
Bibliographic Info: 68 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8545-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4329-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  vii
Preface  1
Part I—Reading the Gravestones
of Early New England  5
Part II—Categories of Epitaphs  47
The Classic  48
Scripture  56
Psalms and Hymns  70
English and American Poetry  100
The Graveyard School  148
Recurring but Unidentified  185
Bespoke  204
Sudden Death  230
Bibliography  241
Index  245