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Open Access Introduction

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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter presents an overview of this book, which investigates stories of growing old from Petrarch's to Montaigne's time. First, the book explores a shift in attitudes towards aging. From the late fourteenth to the end of the sixteenth centuries, the elderly subject became a focus of new social, medical, political, and literary attention on both sides of the Alps. A movement of secularization inspired by the revival of classical literature tended to dissociate old age from the Christian preparation for death, and downplayed the role of the afterlife, re-orienting the concept of aging around pragmatic matters such health care, intergenerational relationships, and insights one might acquire in later life and pass along. The book provides a historical perspective on a crucial problem of our time. The United Nations foresees an unprecedented global demographic transformation in the near future: by 2050, people aged sixty and beyond will outnumber those under fifteen.

Keywords: aging; Montaigne; Petrarch; United Nations

10.1163/9789004255722_002
/content/books/b9789004255722_002
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