Falcus, Sarah (2014) Storying Alzheimer's Disease in Lisa Genova's Still Alice. Entertext, 11. ISSN 14723085
Abstract

Taking as its starting point the value of literary studies to work on ageing, this paper
explores the contribution of literature to the discourse of ageing and illness, focussing on an illness synonymous with ageing in the cultural imagination: Alzheimer’s disease. This is a condition that poses a challenge not only to narrative and meaning-making, but also to the idea of coherent selfhood. The focus of this
paper is the popular novel Still Alice, a text praised for its depiction of Alzheimer’s from the perspective of the sufferer. This novel explores the complexity and contradictions of Alzheimer’s disease, ageing and selfhood. It does not always escape the dominant representation of Alzheimer’s as a loss of self that is associated with ageing as decline, but it also contains elements which critique the way Alzheimer’s functions as a
metonym for ageing and offers a vision of selfhood that might be called postmodern in its emphasis upon relation ality and the fragmented affirmation of self and being. This makes clear that despite the risks – ethical and artistic –
in writing dementia and aestheticizing Alzheimer’s, popular fiction has an important part to play in the discourse of dementia.

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