Ieva Stončikaitė

The End-of-Life Colours And The Meanings of Life, Death And Old Age: There is a substantial body of research on the so-called Third Age, yet, the last stage in life, commonly known as the Fourth Age, has been masked by the model of successful ageing. Since this period in life is often linked to dependency, care and the loss of mobility and cognitive capacities, it has even been considered a ‘black hole’ in ageing studies (Gilleard and Higgs, 2010), which reveals the cultural failure to see the Fourth Age beyond the narrative of decline (Gullette 2004). This paper discusses the complexities of ageing, care, and death as reflected in Erica Jong’s novel, Fear of Dying (2015). Jong’s latest fictional work to date uncovers the aspects associated with the Fourth Age and, at the same time, reveals new ways of understanding human nature, death and ageing. The author highlights that although death ends physical life, it does not necessarily end a life story or a relationship. By using literary gerontology as the framework of this study, this paper shows how literary narratives can help us explore and deal with the often hidden intersections of care, intergenerational relationships, old age, and death.

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