Elegies upon the Dying

Sandra M. Gilbert

in The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199228133
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Elegies upon the Dying

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)
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This article reports that the ways of dying in the contemporary age trains a sharp eye on the technologies of life support, the minute details of hospital experience in all of its alienating details, and on the stark physicality of the dying body. The contemporary medicalized elegy, a kind that would have been unthinkable in any previous age, is specifically addressed. The article also describes Mabel Beardsley and Jane Kenyon. It is believed that the rise of the increasingly popular, and often medicalized, grief memoir has significantly shaped the transformation in the elegy. If a hypothetical Bereavement Book Club could offer subscribers a list of prose memoirs recording the clinical details of the deathbed, it could also include a library of volumes in verse that include comparable scenes. The traditional death watch becomes a reciprocal process.

Keywords: dying; contemporary medicalized elegy; Mabel Beardsley; Jane Kenyon; Bereavement Book Club

Article.  8103 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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