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The Jews Among Pagans and Christians in the Roman Empire.

Shulamith Shahar, Ages, trans. Chaya Galsi. (London; New York: Routledge, 1992). x + 342 pp. ISBN 0-415-07329-4. 12.99[pounds] (p/b). Professor Shahar intends to refute what she asserts is Phillipe Aries's argument that the Middle Ages had no conception of childhood because high infant mortality precluded emotional attachment to children. Shahar takes this to mean that mediaeval children did not |exist'. But Aries never disputes this: this point is that |childhood' did not carry in die Middle Ages the load of emotional and symbolical meanings it does today. Shahar's effort to prove that children |existed' in the Middle Ages is therefore misplaced; her book is also methodologically confused. The most disturbing confusion occurs when she uses elements of the ideas of some child psychologists (mainly Erikson and Piaget) and psychoanalysts (mainly Freud) to make extraordinarily generalized suggestions concerning the psychological consequences of mediaeval child-rearing. Only in the appendix is there an attempt to explain and defend her application of these ideas. This book may be recommended as a source-book for mediaeval texts involving the mention of children, and relevant secondary material, but readers should be prepared to rethink the conclusions which may be drawn with respect to childhood in the Middle Ages.
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Author:Ward-Perkins, Bryan
Publication:Medium Aevum
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1993
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