This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of…

Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life (1960)

by Philippe Ariès

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
464234,036 (3.47)2

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 2 mentions

Showing 2 of 2
I can't remember when I first picked up this book, but it's one that made a deep impression on me because back in my teens I had little appreciation for how deeply alien the past can be. This book is a "reply to this question on the modernity of the idea of the family" and so a history of childhood, how the very conception changed over the last four centuries through examining art, diaries, letters, literature and their depictions of children, their dress, toys and games and especially education. It makes the case that the conception of "the special nature of childhood," and that a more child-centered society created the family. In Aries view, it may once have taken a village to raise a child, but it's the nuclear family that emerged from modern mores, the carving out of a private sphere, and especially modern education and that "sociability and the concept of the family are incompatible and could only develop at each other's expense."

Until the end of the middle ages, particularly before the 16th century, Western society barely distinguished between the sphere of adults and children. We early learn that in bygone ages children worked, married and even went to war before they ever hit puberty. The idea of childhood innocence is fairly new according to Aries. He provides startling evidence of that, particularly from the diary of a physician describing the childhood of the future King Louis XIII of France. Adults casually played with a child's genitals, children nonchalantly exposed themselves, and crude sexual jokes and comments were made in front of children.

Memorable and striking as that was, it also does identify one weakness I found in the work--that so much was focused on France, and in this case what has to be the most atypical of childhoods, that of royalty. Arles was also often exhaustive in his details to the point of tedium. This really isn't a popular history written to entertain. On the other hand this is an erudite and enlightening survey of the topic, based on what is obviously prodigious and meticulous original research that took in fascinating details of the history not just of childhood but dress and especially education and the nuances between not just children and adults but factors of gender and class. Published in 1960 it was a seminal work on the subject, and I still find many of the customs detailed and theories propounded thought-provoking. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Oct 5, 2012 |
Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life by Philippe Aries (1965)
  leese | Nov 23, 2009 |
Showing 2 of 2
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philippe Arièsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Baldick, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Information from the Catalan Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

The theme of this extraordinary book is the evolution of the modern conception of family life and the modern ℑ of the nature of children. Aries traces the evolution of the concept of childhood from the end of the Middle Ages, when the child was regarded as a small adult, to the present child-centered society, by means of diaries, paintings, games, and school curricula.   Ironically, he finds that individualism, far from triumphing in our time, has been held in check by the family, and that the increasing power of the tightly-knit family circle has flourished at the expense of the rich-textured communal society of earlier times. Translated from the French by Robert Baldick.… (more)

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.47)
1 2
2 2
3 7
3.5 5
4 12
4.5 3
5 1

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 136,472,096 books! | Top bar: Always visible