Abstract

The impulse to fashion one's own self-affirming story out of the painful shards of illness experience—a counternarrative to a culture's dominant, constricting account of "the patient"—tends to be viewed as a relatively new phenomenon, linked to postmodernist practices. Utilizing the late twentieth-century illness narratives of Anatole Broyard as a lens through which to view the writings of Michel de Montaigne, this essay argues that over four hundred years ago at least one early modern European was experimenting with language as a catalyst for healing. Montaigne's Travel Journal is simultaneously a tourist's account of the spa towns of central Europe and an illness narrative detailing his "encounters" along the way with the kidney stones that regularly journeyed through his body producing excruciating pain and fearful, near-death episodes. Montaigne emerges from the pages of this fascinating journal as an energetic, insatiably curious, and engaged scholar and traveler, "enduring" his pains "humanly"—the protagonist of a "very pleasing story."

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6571
Print ISSN
0278-9671
Pages
pp. 231-249
Launched on MUSE
2006-01-25
Open Access
No
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