Abstract :

Malone Dies (1956) by Samuel Beckett and Chambre simple (2018) by Jérôme Lambert present the narratives of precarity in the clinical setting, wherein the clinical caregivers view the suffering of the patients as a spectacle and chart out pre(script)ions and pro(script)ions for them. Both novels open on a note of uncertainty. This paper examines the narratives of fear and anxiety of the institutionalized patients (probably) in the mental asylum in Malone Dies and the public hospital in Chambre simple. The caregivers in both novels represent the voice of medical authority who focus on cure rather than care, providing their patients food and medications or conducting tests. Hence, Malone and le Patient are compelled to develop artistic coping mechanisms of self-care, reclaiming the ownership of the self. In Malone Dies, the abatement of in-person care and the fear of spending time in isolation before death motivates Malone to devise the narratives. Malone is the sole performer and spectator of his performance of patienthood. Similarly, le Patient chooses the position of the spectator, thus turning upside down the “spectacle” of the epilepsy script, where the patient is viewed as the performer of catharsis by the clinical audience. Here, the lens of performance studies helps us understand clinical caregivers’ emphasis on preparing an illness script that governs Malone and le Patient’s script of narrative self-care. We argue that caregivers’ expectations pressurize patients with chronic conditions to implement forms of artistic self-care in clinical settings.

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