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The Vulnerable Body

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Chapter Summary

Death was a regular visitor in Otto van Eck's life. By the age of ten he had lost two younger brothers and a younger sister. He was reminded of their deaths every time he wrote in his diary about the illnesses of his other siblings. In the late eighteenth century, reactions to death became more and more emotional. Until that time a stoical Christian resignation had been the norm in more genteel circles; after all, great sorrow could be interpreted as resistance to God's will. In the Netherlands, Abraham Perrenot was the first to advocate extraurban burial. His dissertation on the subject initially met with great resistance, but his ideas gradually won more support. Otto's diary and the letters he received from relatives, as well as the books he read, all speak of illness as a fact of nature and not an act of God.

Keywords: death; eighteenth century; Netherlands; Otto van Eck



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