In this chapter, I look back at the history of the silence that engulfed the discourse of mourning until recently and at the gradual, often contradictory and not always successful, attempts at breaking it. I then explore a ‘new’ literary genre that has been enjoying great editorial success in the last ten years: the grief memoir. I argue that the contemporary grief memoir, composed by writers, journalists, and intellectuals, points to a new phase in the long history of our confrontation with death. It can be interpreted as an attempt to bring back into daily conversation and into the life of ordinary people the theorization about death that literature has always performed, in the form of a testimony. Focussing in particular on Levels of Life by Julian Barnes, Grief is a Thing with Feathers by Max Porter and Patrimony: A True Story by Philip Roth, I explore the reasons for the grief memoir’s success and its therapeutic force for many readers: the way in which these works can perform, also for the benefit of readers, what Freud called, with dazzling intuition, the work of mourning.

Corso, S. (2022). A Grief Narrated: The Contemporary Grief Memoir. In F.M. Simona Corso (a cura di), Dwelling on Grief. Narratives of Mourning Across Time and Forms (pp. 149-165). Oxford : Legenda.

A Grief Narrated: The Contemporary Grief Memoir

Simona Corso
2022

Abstract

In this chapter, I look back at the history of the silence that engulfed the discourse of mourning until recently and at the gradual, often contradictory and not always successful, attempts at breaking it. I then explore a ‘new’ literary genre that has been enjoying great editorial success in the last ten years: the grief memoir. I argue that the contemporary grief memoir, composed by writers, journalists, and intellectuals, points to a new phase in the long history of our confrontation with death. It can be interpreted as an attempt to bring back into daily conversation and into the life of ordinary people the theorization about death that literature has always performed, in the form of a testimony. Focussing in particular on Levels of Life by Julian Barnes, Grief is a Thing with Feathers by Max Porter and Patrimony: A True Story by Philip Roth, I explore the reasons for the grief memoir’s success and its therapeutic force for many readers: the way in which these works can perform, also for the benefit of readers, what Freud called, with dazzling intuition, the work of mourning.
9781839540349
Corso, S. (2022). A Grief Narrated: The Contemporary Grief Memoir. In F.M. Simona Corso (a cura di), Dwelling on Grief. Narratives of Mourning Across Time and Forms (pp. 149-165). Oxford : Legenda.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11590/412302
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