Sunday, December 20, 2015

Caregiving in English fiction


Carol J. Adams offers a curious op-ed on p. 9 of the Sunday Review in the New York Times, “Jane Austen’s Guide to Alzheimer’s”.  She is referring to the 1815 novel “Emma” by Austen, which is supposedly based on a character similar to Emma herself.  I checked the plot on Wikipedia where the summary refers to Henry Woodhouse (Emma’s father) as a valetudinarian, but doesn’t say he is demented to the point of needing actual constant caregiving.

Adams is even working on a book on Jane Austen and caregiving. I wonder if the same theme occurs with George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans). “Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe” (1861, and I read it in Tenth Grade) is really about “adoption” but does deal with taking on responsibilities for others that one did not choose, even when one has hoarded one’s own private world previously.

She does refer to the need to “time off” from family caregiving, as she describes her experience with her own mother. She also describes being a "parent to her parent" (almost like in "Interstellar").

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