Exilic Effects of Illness and Pain in Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward: How Sharpening the Moral Imagination Can Facilitate Repatriation
Goldberg, Daniel S
The Journal of medical humanities 2009 Mar ; 30(1): 29-42
This essay uses Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward to explore the exilic effects of illness and pain. The novel is uniquely suited for such an analysis given the theme of exile that predominates both in the narrative and in the composition of multiple characters within that narrative. I argue that illness, and in particular pain, is a liminal state, an existential hinterlands. The ethical approach to literature and medicine may suggest, as a response to these exilic effects, the need to cultivate connection and empathy by sharpening the moral imagination. If pain and illness exile the sufferer, the imperative to reach out takes on ethical content.
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