Mourning Diary: Self-Indulgent

                

For the first time since beginning 10-10-12, the book I chose for my “short” category was actually… short. Roland Barthes’ diary of his mourning of his mother spanned 250 pages, but each page includes only one or two sentences, reflecting on his grief and sense of loss.

I found the diary self-indulgent, which shouldn’t be surprising given that it’s a diary a genre necessarily preoccupied with the self, but somehow the book read as grotesquely self-indulgent. It sets up as its premise the affective consequence of losing someone else and then begins an outpouring of the effects on the self: sense of impending mortality, dissociation from time, incorporation of affect into writing and work, newly discovered freedom of living a life untethered from a mother. Had the book abjured the claim of being about Barthes’ mother I might find no complaint – the snap sentences are moving, painful and above all, thoughtful – but as it is, I could not reconcile the distance between purported purpose – mourning a mother – and given text – meditation on the mourning self.

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Filed under 100 Books of 2011, Book I'll Forget I Read

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