The Kindness of Strangers (Paperback)

The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance

By John Boswell

University of Chicago Press, 9780226067124, 506pp.

Publication Date: November 1, 1998

List Price: 34.00*
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Description

In The Kindness of Strangers, John Boswell argues persuasively that child abandonment was a common and morally acceptable practice from antiquity until the Renaissance. Using a wide variety of sources, including drama and mythological-literary texts as well as demographics, Boswell examines the evidence that parents of all classes gave up unwanted children, "exposing" them in public places, donating them to the church, or delivering them in later centuries to foundling hospitals. The Kindness of Strangers presents a startling history of the abandoned child that helps to illustrate the changing meaning of family.


Praise For The Kindness of Strangers: The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance

"Highly original, learned, and skillfully written. . . . A mine of fascinating and surprising information about every aspect of the history of family limitation in ancient, medieval, and Renaissance Europe."

— Bernard Knox

"A formidably learned, ingenious, at times eloquent investigation. Professor Boswell is a young historian of rare force and originality."

— George Steiner

"Bold, original and, very likely, controversial. . . . This is a pioneering work of large importance, the first to map out and explore a tangled, mysterious region of human experience."

— Mary Martin McLaughlin