chapter  8
The Ancient Mariner’s Dilemma: Constructing a Trauma Narrative
Pages 20

A number of years ago, when I started writing about adult onset trauma, I came across the following comment in Paul Fussell’s (2000) book, the Great War and Modern Memory. Describing the climax of a short story about World War I, he concludes, “This fiction provides a structure rather too artificial, but it is an example of the necessity of fiction in giving memorable testimony of fact” (p. 311, italics added). At the time I thought that was absolutely right; you can’t talk about a traumatic experience head on, he is saying; if you really want to give the flavor of the experience, you have to make it up. I don’t believe that this is true anymore because I have come to understand the conditions under which a vital trauma narrative comes together, which is the subject of this chapter.