The Corpse

A History


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About the Book

Throughout the centuries, different cultures have established a variety of procedures for handling and disposing of corpses. Often the methods are directly associated with the deceased’s position in life, such as a pharaoh’s mummification in Egypt or the cremation of a Buddhist. Treatment by the living of the dead over time and across cultures is the focus of study. Burial arrangements and preparations are detailed, including embalming, the funeral service, storage and transport of the body, and forms of burial. Autopsies and the investigative process of causes of deliberate death are fully covered. Preservation techniques such as cryonic suspension and mummification are discussed, as well as a look at the “recycling” of the corpse through organ donation, donation to medicine, animal scavengers, cannibalism, and, of course, natural decay and decomposition. Mistreatments of a corpse are also covered.

About the Author(s)

The late Christine Quigley authored books and articles, wrote an eclectic blog called Quigley’s Cabinet and reviewed books for Fortean Times.

Bibliographic Details

Christine Quigley

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 368
Bibliographic Info: photos, references, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2005 [1996]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2449-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1377-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction     1

Part I. The Corpse as an Object of Grief     7
1. The Symbol     9
2. The Visual Image     22

Part II. The Last Rites of a Corpse     47
3. The Preparation     48
4. The Display     63
5. The Disposition     78

Part III. The Corpse and the Causes of Death     105
6. The Investigation     107
7. The Deliberate Death     142
8. The Proliferation     155

Part IV. The Recycling of the Corpse     175
9. The Resuscitation     177
10. The Donation     197
11. The Ingestion     209
12. The Dissolution     222

Part V. The Keeping of the Corpse     231
13. The Preservation     233
14. The Veneration     247
15. The Exhibit     267

Part VI. Respect for the Corpse     275
16. The Shamed     277
17. The Anonymous     284
18. The Plundered     290

Afterword     303
19. Caretakers of the Dead     305

References     313
Bibliography     337
Index     345

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Fascinating and well-researched…a compelling topic”—Library Journal
  • “Very well researched…engaging…fascinating”—Morbid Curiosity
  • “Well referenced…comprehensive”—Science and Justice
  • “Everything and anything you wanted (or didn’t want) to know about the corpse. A detailed and scholarly dissertation on the A to Z of the dead body…replete with detailed reference sources, bibliography and index and a must for the serious necromantic. Highly recommended for its concise and detailed format”—