Show Less

Cemetery Plots from Victoria to Verdun

Literary Representations of Epitaph and Burial from the 19th Century through the Great War


Heather Kichner

Cemetery Plots from Victoria to Verdun considers the rhetoric of burial reform, cemeterial customs, and epitaphic writing in Great Britain from the mid-nineteenth century through the Great War. The first half of the book studies mid- and late-Victorian responses to death and burial, including epitaph collections, burial reform documents, and fictional representations of burial and epitaph writing, especially in the novels of Charles Dickens. The second half studies the same discourse of burial, mourning, and epitaphs in select fiction, memoirs, diaries, correspondence, and poems produced in response to World War I in order to understand how writing about individual memorialization changed in post-war British literature and culture.


Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Introduction. Arriving at the Cemetery 1


• I N T R O D U C T I O N • Arriving at the Cemetery Here in this grave there lyes a Cave, We call a Cave a Grave; If Cave be Grave and Grave be Cave, Then, reader! judge, I crave, Whether doth Cave lye here in Grave, Or Grave doth lye in Cave? If Grave and Cave here buried lye, Then Grave where is thy victorie? Go, reader, and report here lyes a Cave Who conquers death and buries his own Grave. —Charles Northend, Churchyard Literature (1874) harles Northend includes this ten-line epitaph for a man named “Cave” in his1874 collection of epitaphs called Churchyard Literature or Light Reading on Grave Subjects. Northend’s book is one of many collections of epitaphs published during the nineteenth century. This epitaph raises particular questions about the presence and absence of bodies and the audience for memorializing writing. The writer of this riddle emphasizes his proximity to the tombstone and beckons the reader to look “here” in “this grave,” although reading this epitaph on the pages of Northend’s book would have been quite a different experience than reading the text on the tombstone itself. The reader could, however, imagine himself standing next to the gravestone in the cemetery; indeed, the opening lines invite intimacy and draw the reader into the riddle. The if-then question posed in the next four lines presents a common epitaphic request: the voice from the stone directly addresses the reader and asks for judgment and consideration. The...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.