A fascinating and colourful social history of the nighttime in the pre-Industrial era.
AT DAY’S CLOSE charts a fresh realm of Western culture, nocturnal life from the late medieval period to the Industrial revolution.
The book focuses on the cadences of daily life, investigating nighttime in its own right and resurrecting a rich and complex universe in which persons passed nearly half of their lives – a world, long-lost to historians, of blanket fairs, night freaks, and curtain lectures, of sun-suckers, moon-cursers and night-kings. It is not only the vocabulary that has disappeared, AT DAY’S CLOSE will restitute many facts which have been either lost or forgotten. It is a significant and newsworthy contribution to social history, filled with substantial research, stories and new discoveries.
Ekirch uses a wide range of sources to reconstruct how the night was lived in the past : travel accounts, memoirs, letters, poems, plays, court records, coroner’s reports, depositions and laws dealing with curfews, crime and lighting. He has analysed working-class autobiographies, proverbs, nursery rhymes, ballads and sermons, and folklore, as well as consulting medical, psychological and anthropological papers.