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The Final Crossing

Death and Dying in Literature

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Edited By John J. Han and Clark C. Triplett

Since ancient times, writers and poets have grappled with death, dying, grief, and mourning in their works. The Final Crossing: Death and Dying in Literature compiles fifteen in-depth, scholarly, and original essays on death and dying in literature from around the globe and from different time periods. Written from a variety of critical perspectives, the essays target both scholars and serious students. Death and dying is an important area of study for a variety of disciplines, including psychology, psychiatry, sociology, gerontology, medical ethics, healthcare science, health law, and literary studies. The Final Crossing is a landmark compendium of academic essays on death and dying in literary texts, such as the Iliad, Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, Hamlet, The Secret Garden, and The Grapes of Wrath. This collection of essays not only brings an international flavor, but also a unique angularity to the discourse on thanatology. The novelty of perspectives reflects the diverse cultural and intellectual backgrounds of the contributors. This diversity opens up a fresh conversation on a number of age-old questions related to «the final crossing.» In this volume, readers will find an intriguing array of topics for further reflection and research.
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Introduction

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JOHN J. HAN AND C. CLARK TRIPLETT



Death and dying is an important area of study in a variety of disciplines, including psychology, psychiatry, sociology, gerontology, medical ethics, healthcare science, health law, and literary studies. One of the modern pioneers in thanatology was Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1926–2004), a Swiss-American psychiatrist whose book On Death and Dying (1969) famously presented the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). Her model is now challenged, most notably in Ruth Davis Konigsberg’s The Truth about Grief: The Myth of Its Five Stages and the New Science of Loss (2011), yet Kübler-Ross’s book was a seminal work that revolutionized the way we view the process of dying and bereavement.

The year 1970 saw the publication of two important journals on death and dying, Death Studies and OMEGA: Journal of Death and Dying, both of which are still published. In the same year, Hannelore Wass (1926–2013), a German-American scholar, began to teach death and dying at the University of Florida. These days, almost all colleges, universities, and seminaries offer the course. The Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC), which evolved from the Forum for Death Education and Counseling, also meets on an annual basis.

However, the issue of death and dying is as old as human history. Throughout the history of world literature, writers and poets have grappled with the issue of human death and dying. Texts from ancient...

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