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  • Author or Editor: Rebecca Anna Bitenc x

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Rebecca Anna Bitenc

This chapter explores the way literary representations of dementia enhance our understanding of what it is like to experience this disease, the light that dementia narratives throw on the particular plight of the sufferer. How does knowledge, in the sense of awareness of one’s cognitive decline, interact with emotional pain? How does narrative technique contribute to an empathic engagement with the character afflicted by dementia? What are the ethical implications of both writing and reading about this condition? The main part of the chapter is devoted to a close analysis of two fictional narratives, Out of Mind by J. Bernlef (1988) and the more recent debut novel Still Alice by Lisa Genova (2007). Aware of the discrepancy between fictional worlds and the ‘actual’ world, this chapter nevertheless outlines the potential value of narrative fiction as a means of improving one’s understanding of another person’s mind and another person’s pain.