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Crying Paperback – Feb 1 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton; Reprint edition (Feb. 1 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393321037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393321036
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 0.2 x 2.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 422 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #616,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

Behind the human eye lies a complex system of dozens of secretory and excretory glands bearing such names as "crypts of Henle" and "Wolfring's glands." These glands combine to produce basal tears that flow into the nasolacrimal duct, which in turn empties into the nose. Under the right conditions of irritation, emotion, or illness, the glands yield more liquid than the nasolacrimal duct can handle, causing tears to spill out and drain over the eyelids. Thus crying, a rare human universal that we share with no other creature, for which reason Charles Darwin called it "a special expression of man."

There you have the basic science behind crying, a branch of inquiry that in literary scholar Tom Lutz's view ought to but does not bear the name "lacrimology" or even "lamentology." Lutz considers the natural history of weeping, writing vigorously and accessibly about the mysterious workings of the human body. But more, he looks into the cultural rules that surround crying, especially those in Western societies that only in the last few decades have established norms whereby women are supposed to cry freely in times of stress and trouble, whereas men are not. Illustrating his cultural history with examples from literature and art, Lutz delivers a fine, eminently readable exercise in popular anthropology, one that will be of wide interest. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Observing that the act of weeping is exclusively human, though its interpretation is by no means universal, Lutz (American Nervousness, 1903) offers a fascinating, multi-disciplinary study of tears. With a fluid style and an astonishingly vast reachAencompassing history, literature, the arts and the social sciencesALutz explores how crying has been portrayed and perceived throughout history. In a dense but essential section, he examines the physiology of tears and cites theorists, Darwin among them, who considered crying a physical, muscular act. Of course, tears are more commonly viewed as expressing "a surplus of feeling over thinking," whether of sorrow, happiness, pain, relief, pride, empathy, catharsis, deception (as in crocodile tears) or any combination of these emotions. Lutz asks not only why we cry, but why we stop crying and how we react to another person's tears. His examination of gender stereotypes and the traditional division of emotional "labor" in our society, according to which women cry and men restrain themselves, is especially provocative. Turning to pop culture, Lutz comments on how contemporary American gender-typing has shifted in books, movies and real life, noting two iconic images: Jacqueline Kennedy's stoic reserve at her husband's funeral and Michael Jordan's open sobbing at a championship victory. This accomplished work is a rich treat for anyone intrigued by emotional displays. (Aug.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
An anonymous British pamphlet from 1755, Man: A Paper for Ennobling the Species, proposed a number of ideas for human improvement, and among them was the idea that something called "moral weeping" would help: We may properly distinguish weeping into two general kinds, genuine and counterfeit; or into physical crying and moral weeping. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
In this book, the author puts his multi-disciplinary knowledge to good use by summarizing literary, artistic, cultural, biological, and psychological analyses of tears. Lutz synthesizes these viewpoints in clear language, accompanied by vivid pictures and illustrations that further clarify his points. With examples ranging from Alice in Wonderland to Freud's rejection of crying as catharsis, the book covers a remarkable amount of material across a great deal of time, while remaining a cohesive text.
Those interested in psychology will appreciate Lutz's analysis of the varied psychological explanations of crying, as well as his perspective on Phineas Gage. Students of anatomy will be impressed by his clear explanation of the lacrimal system and the history of how it came to be understood. Sociologists and anthropologists will be fascinated by his insights into cultural mourning. And fans of literature will enjoy his analysis of tears in fiction, in which he discusses playwrights from Shakespeare to Neal Simon and authors from Socrates to Dostoyevsky. The book even treats crying in relation to films such as Lorenzo's Oil and Titanic!
In effect, although classified as a psychology book, "Crying" has a little something for most everyone. A useful book for analysis, self-reflection, reference or study.
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Format: Hardcover
A cohesive, artfully written book on a subject near and dear to many people's hearts (and heads), "Crying" moves seamlessly from academic analysis to a cultural critique of the emotions involved in a readable, intelligent, and plain fun format. With this book, Dr. Lutz may very well make the move from academic publishing (which few read) to publishing success, and hey-- go for it, Tom! A merry reader, Iowa City, Iowa. (will you promise to come visit after your success?)
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By A Customer on July 15 2000
Format: Hardcover
I admired Lutz's throughness in accruing examples, and there are many interesting sidebars and historical illustrations, but there's almost no point to this book at all. It reads somewhat like Marjorie Garber's latest works, except it's even more "lite"--it's as if he had been so busy finding things to discuss relative to tears that he forgot to spend time actually discussing what sorrow and sentiment and sentimentality actually mean.
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By A Customer on Sept. 15 1999
Format: Hardcover
I loved Lutz's earlier book (American Nervousness), and this one is also a great accomplishment. More than any literary scholar I have read, Lutz is able to use literature to bring great insight to particular social and cultural issues. He also writes well.
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By A Customer on Sept. 14 1999
Format: Hardcover
I mean it! Seriously! Really! I'm not kidding
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