Norbert Elias, The Loneliness of the Dying and Humana Conditio (Dublin: UCD Press, 1 April 2010 [Collected Works, vol. 6). 192 pp. ISBN 9781906359065 (hardback)
The latest volume of the Collected Works of Norbert Elias in English, edited by Alan and Brigitte Scott of the University of Innsbruck, contains two of Elias’s shorter books.
The Loneliness of the Dying is one of Elias’s most widely admired works. Drawing on a range of literary and historical sources, it is sensitive and even moving in its discussion of the changing social context of death and dying over the centuries. Today, when death is less familiar to most people in everyday life, the dying frequently experience the loneliness of social isolation.
Humana Conditio, written in 1985 to mark the fortieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War, has never before been published in English. ‘Human beings’, writes Elias, ‘have made the reciprocal murdering of people a permanent institution. Wars are part of a fixed tradition of humanity. They are anchored in its social institutions and in the social habitus of people, even the most peace-loving’. Although Elias, like most people at the time, failed to foresee the end of the Cold War, his discussion of ‘hegemonic fevers’ remains highly relevant to understanding present-day international relations. Elias’s meditation on the human lot ranges over the whole of human history to the future of humanity.
The volume is published at the list price of €60.00, but can be purchased at the discount price of €48.00 if it is ordered online direct from the publishers at www.ucdpress.ie.