The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics by Arthur W. Frank

The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics

Arthur W. Frank
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Details

  • ISBN
    9780226259932 / 0226259935
  • Title The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics
  • Author Arthur W. Frank
  • Category Cultural Studies
    Medicine
  • Format
    Paperback
  • Year 1995
  • Pages 231
  • Publisher
    University of Chicago Press
  • Imprint University of Chicago Press
  • Edition
    2nd
  • Language English
  • Dimensions 133mm x 17mm x 223mm

Annotation

Ill people are more than victims of disease or patients of medicine; they are wounded storytellers, Frank argues. People tell stories to make sense of their suffering; when they turn their diseases into stories, they find healing. Drawing on the work of authors such as Oliver Sacks, Anatole Broyard, Norman Cousins, and Audre Lorde, as well as on the stories of people he has met during years spent among different illness groups, Frank recounts a stirring collection of illness narratives, ranging from the well-known - Gilda Radner's battle with ovarian cancer - to the private testimonials of people with cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, and disabilities. Their stories are more than accounts of personal suffering: they abound with moral choices and point to a social ethic. Frank identifies three basic narratives of illness - stories of restitution, chaos, and quest. Restitution narratives anticipate getting well and give prominence to the technology of cure. In chaos narratives, illness seems to stretch on forever, with no respite or redeeming insights. Quest narratives are about finding that illness can be transformed into a means for the ill person to become someone new. Understanding these three narrative types helps us to hear the ill, but ultimately illness stories are more. Frank presents these stories as a form of testimony: the ill person is more than a survivor; she is a witness. Schooled in a “pedagogy of suffering”, the ill person reaches out to others, offering a truth about living. The truth is a starting point for a “narrative ethics”, as private experiences become public voices. Wounded storytellers teach more than a new way to understand illness; they exemplify an emergingethic of postmodern times.

Publisher Description

In “At the Will of the Body,” Arthur Frank told the story of his own illnesses, heart attack and cancer. That book ended by describing the existence of a “remission society,” whose members all live with some form of illness or disability. “The Wounded Storyteller” is their collective portrait.
Ill people are more than victims of disease or patients of medicine; they are wounded storytellers. People tell stories to make sense of their suffering; when they turn their diseases into stories, they find healing.
Drawing on the work of authors such as Oliver Sacks, Anatole Broyard, Norman Cousins, and Audre Lorde, as well as from people he met during the years he spent among different illness groups, Frank recounts a stirring collection of illness stories, ranging from the well-known—Gilda Radner's battle with ovarian cancer—to the private testimonials of people with cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, and disabilties. Their stories are more than accounts of personal suffering: they abound with moral choices and point to a social ethic.
Frank identifies three basic narratives of illness in restitution, chaos, and quest. Restitution narratives anticipate getting well again and give prominence to the technology of cure. In chaos narratives, illness seems to stretch on forever, with no respite or redeeming insights. Quest narratives are about finding that insight as illness is transformed into a means for the ill person to become someone new.

Author Biography

Arthur W. Frank received the Natalie Davis Spingarn Writer's Award from the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship in 1996. He teaches at the University of Calgary.

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The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics