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Wit: A Play par Margaret Edson
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Wit: A Play (original 1995; édition 1999)

par Margaret Edson

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9902316,088 (4.35)35
A striking and sharply funny reflection on the frailty of existence and the complex relationship between knowledge and love. Winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Vivian Bearing, Ph.D., a renowned specialist in the brilliantly difficult Holy Sonnets of John Donne, has been diagnosed with stage four metastatic ovarian cancer. Her approach to her illness is not unlike her approach to Donne: aggressively probing and intensely rational. But during the course of her illness - and her stint as a prize patient in an experimental chemotherapy programme - she comes to reassess her life and her work with profundity and an unbearably moving wry humour. Margaret Edson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Wit was first performed in 1995. It was filmed for TV by Mike Nichols in 2001, starring Emma Thompson (who also wrote the screenplay).… (plus d'informations)
Membre:mcenroeucsb
Titre:Wit: A Play
Auteurs:Margaret Edson
Info:Faber & Faber (1999), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 85 pages
Collections:Votre bibliothèque
Évaluation:****1/2
Mots-clés:Aucun

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Wit: A Play par Margaret Edson (1995)

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Vivian Bearing, an English literature professor specialising in John Donne, undergoes horrific chemo before dying of her stage 4 ovarian cancer in this harrowing play. ( )
  atreic | Oct 13, 2021 |
I was actually fortunate enough to read it, and then see it performed during the same semester back in graduate school. In my journal back then, I did write that I thought the play as I read it was better than the performance itself (however, I should note we had gone to see a "preview" performance). But it was still a good experience. There are a lot of ironies in the play, and it is a very moving piece. Again, my journal notes are mostly academic, so I will leave them out. ( )
  bloodravenlib | Aug 17, 2020 |
Beautiful and moving play with much to say about modern medicine and the way it interferes with the dignity of the human person. But it is really about life, how we are living the time we have -- that little comma between our beginning and our end on earth. I loved it. ( )
  MMKY | Jul 3, 2020 |
"Nothing but a breath--a comma--separates life from life everlasting." This remark by E. M. Ashford, D. Phil. to her student, a young Vivian Bearing, is an early indication in this remarkable play that the story of Vivian's battle with cancer is going to be more than just one of doctors, medicine, sickness, and emotion. It will be a battle of wits and wit, mind and matter, the body and soul of Vivian against the destiny that nature has given her. Like all great plays, the reader is presented with questions, conundrums, and perhaps paradoxes if you will; presented in this case as they involve life and, ultimately, death. But does not all living, whether displayed on stage or lived as one's own life, ultimately involve the question of death?

This play is almost a one woman show as Vivian Bearing, Ph. D., professor of literature specializing in the Holy Sonnets of John Donne, is on stage for the whole play. She is surrounded (I hesitate to say supported) by her oncologist and his chief clinician; but she is supported by the primary nurse who develops a bond with her that is unique in the play, for Vivian is alone in this world and must depend on her mind as she experiences "aggressive" cancer treatment. She eventually receives support from her nurse and a touching visit from her former professor and mentor.

Among the questions raised by the play is one that contrasts the medical doctors with Vivian herself as they treat the cancer in a way that mirrors the methods used by Vivian to analyze and dissect the poetry of John Donne. Is it appropriate to treat the patient as a science project, a body that will provide evidence for some future paper? Is she no different than a work of literature? "What a piece of work is a man!" as Hamlet says, but in Wit we see the wonder, but not the humanity. The clinician, who has a vast knowledge of medicine, must refer to his notes to remind himself that his patient is a human being who deserves at least a minimal amount of polite concern. Vivian bears his lack of feeling with her own brittle stoicism. She consoles herself with the thought that "they always . . . want to know more things." But at the same time she buries her true emotions until she is too ill to respond in a way that is able to demonstrate any strength or depth.

She has an epiphany when, upon completion of chemotherapy, she reflects: "I have broken the record. I have become something of a celebrity. Kelekian and Jason are simply delighted. I think they foresee celebrity status for themselves upon the appearance of the journal article they will no doubt write about me." But she immediately realizes that, "The article will not be about me, it will be about my ovaries." She goes on to relish the relief that returning to her hospital room will be, even as the play proceeds and her room slowly begins to resemble the inside of a coffin.

This is a play filled with literary wit. It plays on the difference and the similarity of words and life. At one point Vivian thinks, "my only defense is the acquisition of vocabulary". She is learning and reflecting even as she is slowly losing the battle with cancer. Should we live our lives like Vivian, continually learning and thinking and growing, even as humans we all move closer to our own personal appointments with mortality? This reader says yes! Even so, this play reminds us that the road will be difficult, but that there are ways to face one's destiny that may not be known today. It is the ability to deal with this unknown and the possibilities of tomorrow that make the battle worth engaging and our lives worth living. ( )
  jwhenderson | Jul 15, 2016 |
About a 50-year old literature professor dying of cancer. Entwines the Holy Sonnets poetry of John Donne with her own journey, grappling with the complexity of life and death. She lived chasing knowledge, perfection, and hard work...only to find in death that it was humanity, touch, and kindness that she needed. ( )
  lgaikwad | Mar 20, 2016 |
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A striking and sharply funny reflection on the frailty of existence and the complex relationship between knowledge and love. Winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Vivian Bearing, Ph.D., a renowned specialist in the brilliantly difficult Holy Sonnets of John Donne, has been diagnosed with stage four metastatic ovarian cancer. Her approach to her illness is not unlike her approach to Donne: aggressively probing and intensely rational. But during the course of her illness - and her stint as a prize patient in an experimental chemotherapy programme - she comes to reassess her life and her work with profundity and an unbearably moving wry humour. Margaret Edson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Wit was first performed in 1995. It was filmed for TV by Mike Nichols in 2001, starring Emma Thompson (who also wrote the screenplay).

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