Missing pieces: questioning absences and omissions in pathography
Dr Mariarosa LoddoZoom
Since pathography has become an established form of life writing, criticism has started to question which patterns, plots and authorial postures are the most suitable for telling the illness experience. While giving meaning to traumatic and distressing events, narrative operates as a selective act as well, which implies that something is worth telling and something is not. In this paper, we will focus on this second element, that is the material which is often excluded from pathography, by discussing the functions, expectations and values which are associated whit what is not a visible part of the story. First, we will analyse narrative missing segments, such as the beginning of the disease and death accounts, which hint at the intrinsic limits of autobiographical reconstruction. Then, we will consider criticism of pathography based on the assumption that this kind of life writing is too individualistic and tends to overlook social and political issues. Finally, we will shed light on how comforting plots and even illness narratives tout court can be surprisingly concealed and rejected in order to endorse a different response to infirmity.