Silent City on a Hill

Picturesque Landscapes of Memory and Boston’s Mount Auburn Cemetery

by Blanche M. G. Linden

This month’s very brief book review is of a wonderful book which has been invaluable for my PhD thesis so far. I’m very lucky that my university library has a copy of the 1989 edition, the book has been recently re-released with updates, but I’ll always have a soft spot for this particular copy.

I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but this one is spectacular, although it doesn’t photograph well!
It bears the seal of the cemetery corporation with the motto, ‘sic panditur via immortalitatis’ (Thus extends the path of mortality):

silent city on a hill cover

And just look at the map on the endpapers of the book!

silent city on a hill endpapers

The university library catalogue deleted its record of this book record for a while, and it wasn’t until I went searching for it that I was sure it wasn’t lost (thanks to a fab librarian, who managed to find the shelfmark by looking through my account history), so I was really happy to find it! So happy in fact that I had to borrow it again, despite knowing I’d have to bring it back 2 days later for one of my students (essay writing time)!

Silent City on a Hill looks at the development of the American rural cemetery movement and its inspirations, focusing on the creation and development of Mount Auburn cemetery in Boston. My current thesis doesn’t directly relate to American cemeteries (although I hope to research them in the future) but I found the detailed information about European garden cemeteries, especially Pere Lachaise, which directly inspired Mount Auburn extremely useful. The book also contains many fantastic images, including engravings from the 19th century, so it’s a real visual treat as well as being informative.

As fond as I am of the 1989 edition, I’m going to add the new paperback edition to the wishlist of books I hope to purchase with Christmas money!

silent city on a hill

If you’d like to see more of Silent City on a Hill, there is great preview available on google books here. The new paperback edition is available widely online both new and used, for example here and here.

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