Life from the Prism of Death: Life Narratives of the Old in three novels

Document Type : Original Article


Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Arts, Cairo University


The paper deals with three novels that present life narrative in the face of death. The main character in the three novels is a man in his seventies facing different forms of death, while his own approaching death is looming, leading to a kind of reassessment of his whole life. The three novels studied are: Philip Roth’s The Dying Animal (2002), Andre Brink’s Before I Forget (2005), and Adel Esmat’s The Commandments (2018) (in Arabic). It is an intense dramatically loaded moment in life that has been artistically used for its power to provide a distinct point of view on the life narrative of the protagonist. It is a moment of revaluation that possibly changes much of one’s revered and established values. Although one would not classify these narratives as a distinctive and independent sub genre within life writings, yet they do share distinctive traits that makes studying them as a corpus of works productive.