chapter  5
The vendor of happiness
An interview with French novelist Alphonse Daudet 1 (1840–1897)
ByStephanie de Montalk
Pages 17

As the notion that I should write an illness narrative grew, I went in search of writers who, ‘within the narrow bed of [their] flesh’, 2 had found ways of speaking about pain. I wanted to delve into their daily lives and pertinent language: to hear about their challenges and interpretations of pain unblemished by societal niceties, to feel them walk off the page and into the room. ‘As controversial as any evidence of shaping may be in a trauma text – and what text is not shaped? – part of what we must call healing lies in the assertion of creativity,’ said Leigh Gilmore in The Limits of Autobiography (2001), considering the ‘ability to write beyond the silencing meted out by trauma’. 3