THE HOUR OF OUR DEATH by Philippe Ariès
Translated by Helen Weaver; Knopf; 651 pages; $20
Philippe Ariès is an unusual figure in the formal and rigorous world of French historiography. He is not a professional scholar, but head of the information center of the Institute of Applied Research for Tropical and Subtropical Fruits in Maisons-Lafitte. Clearly mangoes and papayas have not been enough to satisfy his voracious intellect. Ariès is best known as the author of Centuries of Childhood (1962), a landmark study that demonstrated that benevolent child rearing is a relatively recent practice in the West.
The Hour of Our Death...