In morte media jubilate : a study of cancer-related pathographies
Mortality, 10, (2), . (doi:10.1080/13576270500102880).
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This article is the second in a two-part series examining media depiction of individuals who are dying from cancer. The first focused on how television documentary film represents individuals with the disease; this second, and complementary, study explores the development and evolution of textual accounts. It begins by charting the history of auto/biographical books, based on the individual cancer experience, and locates the root of this form of document as far back as the Medieval era. It then draws on appropriate examples to conduct a comparison between models from the mid-nineteenth and late twentieth centuries. The paper argues that, although temporal shifts may appear to exert significant change, these differences are largely superficial, as detailed scrutiny of these texts suggests that the essence and needs of the core self remain unchanged. To afford a comprehensive understanding of why these texts continue to be written and sell well within an aggressive market, the paper presents extracts from interviews held with the author of one of these books, a journalist, the late John Diamond. Drawing upon these conversations as evidence, the paper concludes by suggesting that the socio-temporal conditions prevalent in present-day Western society still lack sufficient strength to countenance an open confrontation with the very real traumas involved in dying.
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