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Posthumous LoveEros and the Afterlife in Renaissance England$
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Ramie Targoff

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226789590

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226110462.001.0001

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Burying Love

Burying Love

(p.1) Introduction Burying Love
Posthumous Love

Ramie Targoff

University of Chicago Press

The clearest historical traces of lovers’ attitudes toward the afterlife are the epitaphs left on tombs. This chapter surveys an archive of surviving sixteenth and seventeenth century epitaphs for husbands and wives and lovers, here imagined as filling a single Renaissance English church. Historians have generally represented Protestant tombs as strictly commemorative in nature, preserving the memory of the deceased for their survivors. What the effigies on joint tombs reveal, however, is a widespread desire for some type of shared afterlife. The vision these inscriptions project for the future was by no means uniform or coherent—they alternated, in fact, between somewhat predictable hopes for a heavenly reunion of souls, and less predictable, materialist hopes simply to lie together in the ground. Whether the inscriptions look forward to a subterranean or celestial reunion, what connects them is something that scholarship of Renaissance England has almost entirely ignored: the persistent desire for posthumous intimacy.

Keywords:   epitaphs, spousal tombs, afterlife, posthumous, Protestantism, Church of England

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