Writing Widowhood: The Landscapes of Bereavement

Writing Widowhood: The Landscapes of Bereavement

by Jeffrey Berman


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Explores how memoirs of widowhood can help us understand the reality of bereavement and the critical role of writing and reading in recovery.

The death of a beloved spouse after a lifetime of companionship is a life-changing experience. To help understand the reality of bereavement, Jeffrey Berman focuses on five extraordinary American writers—Joan Didion, Sandra Gilbert, Gail Godwin, Kay Redfield Jamison, and Joyce Carol Oates—each of whom has written a memoir of spousal loss. In each chapter, Berman gives an overview of the writer’s life and art before widowhood, including her early preoccupation with death, and then discusses the writer’s memoir and her life as a widow. He discovers that writing was, for all of these authors, both a solace and a lifeline, enabling them to maintain bonds with their lost loved ones while simultaneously moving on with their lives. These memoirs of widowhood, Berman maintains, reveal not only courage and resilience in the face of loss, but also the critical role of writing and reading in bereavement and recovery.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781438458205
Publisher: State University of New York Press
Publication date: 07/02/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 244
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Jeffrey Berman is Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He is the author of many books, including Death in the Classroom: Writing about Love and Loss and Dying to Teach: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Learning, both also published by SUNY Press.

Table of Contents


Introduction: “The Most Life-Changing Event”

1. Joyce Carol Oates: A Widow’s Story

2. Sandra M. Gilbert: Wrongful Death

3. Gail Godwin: Evenings At Five

4. Joan Didion: The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights

5. Kay Redfield Jamison: Nothing Was the Same

Conclusion: Mourning Sickness

Works Cited

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