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Vale dearest Sandra: death and digital afterlives
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Donna Brien
The personal essay has been an area of writerly inquiry since Montaigne’s Essais (1580), although more recent research has focused on ethical issues of concern for writers of creative nonfiction (and especially memoir) such as the borderlines of fact and fiction and the ethics of disclosure, rather than forms and potential of the personal essay. This work is part of a larger project investigating the forms and sub-genres of creative nonfiction writing, in this case, the personal essay and, in particular, the personal obituary essay. The obituary has been investigated in terms of journalistic production, what it reflects about societal attitudes to death and linguistic practices, but rarely in relation to contemporary creative writing or creative writers, or the effect of the digital online world on the work writers leave when they die. This work addresses these issues, in response to the death of a close friend/colleague. In exploring the potentialities of the obituary as personal essay, this work suggests approaches to these forms as a vehicle to discuss both the realities of personal loss and contemporary death.