The Body in Pain, by Elaine Scarry

The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World - Elaine Scarry

Probably I should officially consider this a DNF, but I did at least skim the last section, so... This was perhaps a case of waiting too long to read a text I became interested in when a graduate student. At that time, I was regularly reading scholarly work either as assigned in class or for projects for those classes. But I graduated in 2012, and my brain as a reader is generally in a different gear.


I read some of Scarry's other works in my program but was specifically interested in The Body in Pain because I read the opening pages and was drawn in by the discussion of the inexpressibility of pain. I've mentioned in previous posts that I'm a migraineur, so I tend to take note of topics related to pain. Then as a writer I'm naturally also fascinated by works addressing communication and creativity.


Earlier sections on torture, making, and unmaking were worth the tough read, but the second section delves into biblical and Marxist texts, neither of which are in my wheelhouse. I gave myself permission to skim as, let's face it, I'm not likely to end up writing a scholarly paper on the topic.


I thought it unfair to rate what I essentially DNF. I'll say that Scarry's work in general can be unique, surprising, and compelling, but I don't always buy her premises.