Literature and Aging
LITERATURE AND AGING
Since the early 1970s, adult literature has been transformed, creating what Constance Rooke has called "a new paradigm of hope." Modern medicine has extended the life span while improving the later years. Editors, publishers, and authors have recognized that a sizable proportion of the reading and writing public is over sixty. A few writers, such as poet Virginia Adair and novelists Penelope Fitzgerald, Mary Wesley, and Molly Keane, have forged literary careers beginning in their sixties, seventies, or eighties. Ninety-five-year old poet Stanley Kunitz was appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress on 31 July, 2000. He signed three book contracts at the age of ninety-two. Others, such as Kingsley Amis, Elizabeth Spencer, Ellen Douglas, Toni Morrison, John Updike, David Lodge, Margaret Drabble, Pat Barker, and Gail Godwin, have continued professions begun in youth or midlife. No longer is it necessary for writers to exaggerate their youth, as Anzia Yezierska did in the 1920s and 1930s, in order to attract an audience. And as a result of expanded fictional careers older characters appear in adult novels more frequently, playing more varied roles than in earlier days. In many cases they are the chief protagonists of fiction.
In contrast, even as early as the nineteenth century, most stories composed primarily for children include older characters, who rarely dominate the plots but are subordinated to the child heroes. Many of these figures appear weak, greedy, or cruel (see Mangum, 2000). Such characters contribute to children's fear of aging, death, and the ugliness of old bodies. We must carefully analyze these negative depictions to avoid contributing to a mindless "age ideology," one that carelessly stigmatizes all stages of life, but especially midlife and old age (Gullette, 1997, 2000). At the same time positive examples of aging characters can be located in literature for the young, and, it is hoped, even play a healing role. This concern to overcome the barriers separating old and young will continue through the twenty-first century. Young readers still seek a safe space for themselves, to explore what it means to be a child in postindustrial society, and to discover in fiction evidence of warm human relationships that may well be missing in their daily lives. Since literature written for children shapes lifelong attitudes as much as adult fiction, both kinds need analysis.
The themes of children's literature pertinent to aging include the following: redemptive grandchildren, animal families, the search for parental substitutes, and epic heroes. Adult themes of aging involve: life crises and life review, retirement concerns, illness, mourning and death, and occasional instances of epic courage. Of course new trends in society affect the conventions of fiction, but several of the intergenerational themes in adult fiction have antique roots.
The redemptive grandchild theme is developed in Johanna Spyri's Heidi (1880), Frances Hodgson Burnett's Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886), and Annie Fellows Johnston's The Little Colonel Series (1895). At the start of each story, the grandfathers have severed relations with the next generation, claiming their children have married inappropriately. The grandchildren appear on the scene and through their innocent affection rekindle the familial love and pride that the grandfathers thought had died forever. Older women rarely need such reeducation. Indeed, they sometimes intercede and help the children manage the isolated old men. The grandfathers in Fauntleroy and the Little Colonel are obsessed with issues of class and race. Unlike the mountain-dwelling grandfather of Heidi they have little useful to teach their grandchildren outside of what contemporary readers regard as snobbish elitism. Fortunately, children can still respond to Heidi's hopeful message that children have the power to reconcile families torn by strife.
Animal family life
The stories that best represent intergenerational animal family life are often written for the youngest children. Older characters are mostly benign, though sometimes absentminded figures. For example, in Margot Austin's Gabriel Churchkitten (1942), tiny Peter Churchmouse and Gabriel Churchkitten team up to outwit Parson Pease-Porridge. When sleepwalking he eats the food he has just laid out for Peter and Gabriel. Margaret Wise Brown's The Runaway Bunny (1942) and Goodnight Moon (1947) feature older women who reassure young children that they will be nurtured no matter what. A very rich elderly lady plays an instrumental role in Jean de Brunhoff's The Story of Babar (1933). The love she feels for the little elephant is instantaneous and unqualified, as befits an idealized grandmother. The mother in Else Holmelund Minarik's Little Bear (1957) loves her cub unconditionally. Frances Badger is also lucky in her parents. In Russell Hoban's Bedtime for Frances (1960), they tolerate many trips to the bathroom and drinks of water but eventually insist that she settle down and go to sleep.
Orphans and substitute parents
Although occasional orphans, such as detective Nancy Drew, seem untroubled by the death of a parent, others struggle to come to terms with their loss. For instance, L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Anne of Green Gables (1908) is desperate to be accepted by Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, an elderly brother and sister, who need help on their farm. J. K. Rowling also shows great sensitivity to Harry Potter's feelings of bereavement in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1998), a most unusual boarding school novel. Not only does his school train aspiring witches and wizards, but its headmaster plays a positive role rather than merely being a disciplinarian. The elderly head assists the boy unobtrusively, while teaching him to accept death as "the next great adventure" (p.297). Evil older characters abound, but with the assistance of the headmaster and other friendly helpers, the boy hero and his friends prevail.
Epic adventures and magical transformations
Adventurous characters such as Lewis Carroll's Alice and Alf Pro/ysen's Little Old Mrs. Pepperpot (1959) suggest that young and old share a concern about bodily transformations. Midlife characters rarely suffer these indignities. Alice alternates between being tiny and very tall, thus mirroring the feelings of young girls, who may seem short one year and tower over their classmates the next. Older women are unappealing in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking Glass (1871). John Tenniel's comic line drawings stress the absurdity of all older characters (Mangum, 1999, 2000), but the drawings of the Duchess and the Red Queen emphasize their ugly and frightening demeanor. The King's face may be weak, but compared to the Queen he appears to be relatively attractive and mild-mannered. Portrayals of witchlike women make it easy for children to believe older women are dragons who must be conquered (Gullette, 1988). In contrast, old Mrs. Pepperpot shares the worries of young children. Returning home from collecting bilberries to make jam, she shrinks unexpectedly. Lacking strength to carry the pail, she has to trick a fox, wolf, and bear into helping her. Robert McCloskey's hero in Burt Dow: Deep-Water Man (1963) undergoes an experience like that of the Old Testament's Jonah rather unexpectedly one fine day. He puts a colorful Band-Aid on an injured whale. When a storm threatens Burt's old boat, his friend the whale swallows him whole. Burt smears the whale's insides with all the bilge and paint he has aboard his boat to encourage the forgetful whale to disgorge him. In the end the old boatman puts striped Band-Aids on all of the whale's friends and then chugs home to his sister under his own steam.
In most of these stories young children make allies of older characters, who are often idealized. Few writers for that age group would introduce the possibility that grandparents and children might not get along, a problem examined in Peter Taylor's short story "In the Miro District" (1977). Instead grandparents in children's fiction generally lack any desires of their own that might conflict with the needs of the young.
Life crises and life review
Appealing to older readers with experience of life's dilemmas, adult fiction grapples with sometimes unresolvable problems. In adult fiction, characters in their fifties, sixties, and seventies often begin to reflect on their life experiences as a response to crises they cannot otherwise resolve. For example, Toni Morrison's Jazz (1992) unexpectedly becomes "a midlife progress novel" (Gullette, 1988). The African American protagonists are in their fifties. The husband has murdered his teenage lover, and his wife has to be restrained from carving up the corpse's face. Morrison's plot gradually reveals the roots of their problems. Perfect understanding eludes the characters, yet healing does occur. Other novels with similar themes include Madeleine L'Engle's A Severed Wasp (1982), Paule Marshall's Praisesong for the Widow (1983), Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety (1987), and David Lodge's Therapy (1995). Reviewing one's life, however, may well increase one's pain. Stevens, the butler in Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day (1989), discovers that the principles by which he has conducted himself have left him in a lonely old age. He never realized that his employer was a fascist or that Miss Kenton, the housekeeper, loved him dearly.
Life review plays an especially important role in the lives of characters who have emigrated from their countries, often under harrowing circumstances. One fascinating example is Mercy of a Rude Stream (1994–1998), Henry Roth's four-volume continuation of Call It Sleep (1934). The complex narrative structure of Mercy emphasizes the feelings of the old narrator, who looks back upon the literary and sexual adventures of his youth with a mixture of pride and dismay. In order to write about the shameful episodes, the old man confides in his computer, Ecclesias, as if it were a psychotherapist or a father confessor. Much emphasis is placed on the thoughts and feelings of the narrator during three separate moments in his life: his youth, his seventies when he is composing the first draft of this novel sequence, and his mid-eighties when he is revising the manuscript in anticipation of his imminent death.
Life review also appears in the novels of younger immigrant writers, who explore the past of their families in order to understand their lives in the present. The weight of the past tyrannizes the young protagonist in Anzia Yezierska's Bread Givers (1925). Sara Smolinsky feels obliged to rebel against what she regards as the irrational demands of her Polish-born father, Reb Smolinsky, who grows out of touch with the alien world of America. In the last sentence of the novel, however, she expresses a more knowing and complicated view of his behavior. Although she does not regret her rebellion, she now sees her father as a victim of the "generations who made" him (p. 297). Yezierska treats minor aging female characters, such as Muhmenkeh in Arrogant Beggar (1927), more generously than the immigrant fathers or middle-aged, American-born men who populate her novels.
Protagonists in three novels of the 1990s attempt to recreate their parents' youth. Sophie Caco, the heroine of Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danicat's Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994), cannot come to terms with her mother's nightmares and her own sexual phobia until she temporarily returns to Haiti and Grandmè Ifé. Virginity tests, a Haitian custom designed to keep young girls pure, cause Sophie's distress. After revisiting her grandmother, Sophie realizes how helpless Haitian women have always been in the face of male domination. Her mother could not eradicate the memory of being raped by a member of the Macoutes, a paramilitary force in Haiti. In her vulnerability, she feels driven by a powerless love to inflict this test on her daughter, even though it had failed to protect her purity years before. When her mother, newly pregnant, commits suicide to escape from unbearable nightmares, Sophie once again returns to Haiti for the burial. There she learns to accept her mother's stunted life and death, for only in death ou libéré, are you free.
Cristina Garcia's Dreaming in Cuban (1992) describes the bond between a Cuban grandmother and an American granddaughter, feelings that long distance can attenuate but not destroy. Pilar, who is reared in Brooklyn, returns to Cuba to visit her grandmother Celia. After the visit cements their affectionate relationship, Celia feels ready to abandon her family by walking into the sea. Pilar, who has learned enough to understand her heritage, is now ready to enter adulthood. The necessity of reviewing one's life receives a new twist in Elie Wiesel's The Forgotten (1992). Forty-year-old Malkiel Rosenbaum attempts to reconstruct the Romanian Holocaust experiences of his father, Elhanan Rosenbaum. The old professor suffers from increasing dementia. If his son is to understand the family past, he must attempt to recreate the story by himself.
Retirement: forging a new community
In real life anticipating retirement may turn out to be more problematic than the experience itself. It is not a simple matter to choose where and with whom one should spend the final days of one's life. Shakespeare explored these and other issues in King Lear (1606) and The Tempest (1611). Sara Deats (1999) points out that both Prospero and Lear "are sustained by their love for a young daughter" (p. 31), much as the alienated grandfathers in children's fiction are rejuvenated by their newly discovered grandchildren. Moreover, Deats remarks, Prospero, as the play ends, makes plans to return to Milan and reenter his active life.
Several novels and diaries written from the 1970s to the 1990s have explored a few of the questions Shakespeare examined in Lear and The Tempest. Even if one is not a king or a duke, choosing the wrong time or place to retire can be disastrous. The outcomes, however, vary from novel to novel, and the perspective of novelists are sometimes contradicted by real-life accounts in journals. On the whole, however, nursing homes make a most problematic location. Simon, a retired professor in Jon Hassler's Simon's Night (1979), has prematurely committed himself to a rest home where he is moldering. At the novel's end he is reunited with the wife who had deserted him many years before.
Joyce Horner's diary (1982), which describes her two years in a nursing home, makes sad reading. Like the better known The Measure of My Days by Florida Scott-Maxwell (1968), her journal extends not only our understanding of frailty in old age but also old-age writing itself. Crippled with arthritis, Horner, a poet, novelist, and a retired professor of English literature, moved into a nursing home to avoid burdening her friend. Death and disability threaten her moments of joy. Nursing homes, she acknowledges, represent a prison. Not once in the course of writing does Horner forget that her real home is elsewhere, an Eden from which she has been ejected because of disability. At one point she reads May Sarton's As We Are Now (1973) and agrees with Sarton "that nursing homes are purgatory" (Horner, 1982, p. 185). At the same time her institution, she insists, is not like the one Sarton depicts. Indeed, Sarton and novelist Ellen Douglas's Apostles of Light (1973) paint unredemptive pictures of destructive caretakers. The corrupt institutions deserve the conflagrations with which they are destroyed. Still, bad as nursing homes may be, even expensive extended care facilities do not fare much better in James Michener's novel Recessional (1994). The residents need always be vigilant lest the administration take advantage of their lack of oversight. The most encouraging view of a nursing home can be found in detective writer Jane Langton's Good and Dead (1986). Thanks to the willingness of family and friends to visit an institutionalized man frequently, a new sense of community is created.
Although few wish to end their days in a nursing home, other options are not necessarily superior. For example, living in the community does not protect the hapless Marcia Ivory in Barbara Pym's Quartet in Autumn (1977). Marcia is sufficiently demented that she resists the efforts of friends and social workers to protect her from starving to death. Fortunately her three companions, Letty, Norman, and Edmund, become better friends as a result of their attempts to save Marcia from herself. Another character, Lucy Smalley in Paul Scott's Staying On (1977), finds herself marooned in Pankot, India, after her husband's death. The Raj has collapsed, but Mrs. Smalley lacks the money to return to an English country cottage. At the novel's conclusion she murmurs to his shade, "how can you make me stay here by myself while you yourself go home?" (p. 255). May Sarton herself learned that ill-health could take its toll, even though she remained in her own house being taken care of by loyal friends. The journals she composed in her last years (1992–1996) depict the continuing pain she endured and the difficulties of increasing frailty (see Berman).
Relatively healthy elders have problems with retirement as well. For example, since the late 1970s the English countryside has not been much of a haven for old people living on their own. The isolation that some older characters seek turns out to contribute to their plight. Moving to the country can cause one's death, as widow Phyllis Muspratt discovers in Penelope Mortimer's The Handyman (1983). This novel breaks new ground for Mortimer. For the first time in her career she writes sympathetically about older women. The ending of Penelope Lively's Spiderweb (1998) is less grim. Stella Brentwood, a retired anthropologist, rejects a marriage proposal and an offer to share a house with a friend. Valuing her independence, she leaves for parts unknown when the stresses of country life threaten her peace of mind. For those who have money and value friendship, however, retirement has its joys. Happiness, however, must be earned. The Welshmen in Kingsley Amis's The Old Devils (1986) are mostly retired and in their sixties, preoccupied with their deteriorating health, and drinking at the pub. After Alun Weaver dies, however, his widow is free for the first time to settle down with an old lover. This ending suggests that progress narratives are not restricted to midlife. Moreover, in The Last Resort (1998) Alison Lurie portrays Key West as a transformative place, much like Prospero's island. The forty-six-year-old heroine Jenny survives her depressed older husband's sexual rejection, by beginning a new partnership with Lee Weiss, an energetic divorcée of fifty. Jenny does not abandon her husband, who needs her editorial skills, but looks forward each year to a return to Key West and Lee's bed. On the whole, however, in fiction retirement appears to be a potentially dangerous transition.
Illness, death, and mourning
The chief quality that separates the treatment of death in the early twenty-first-century from earlier times is the willingness of contemporary writers to include some of the grim details gleaned from the experience of watching others die. For example, Halvard Solness plunges off a tower at the conclusion of Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder (1892) in a dramatic finale. Old Jolyon Forsyte expires in a garden in John Galsworthy's The Indian Summer of a Forsyte (1918). In a later novel, Swan Song (1928 ), Soames Forsyte dies heroically. He pushes his daughter out of harm's way during a raging fire, but he is struck by the falling painting that had threatened her life. The death of Old Mrs. Moore is reported in a telegram at the end of E. M. Forster's A Passage to India (1924). Readers of these novels and plays are spared from the somber details of death and the miseries of mourning. By the middle of the twentieth-century some writers were willing to risk including the pain that can make death seem a release.
Emotional deprivation appears to kill George, the gay hero of Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man (1964). Isherwood, who was sixty at the time, suggests that emotional losses can hasten one's death. Like Kingsley Amis he stresses his hero's physical disabilities. A less relentless view of life and death appears in Gail Godwin's The Good Husband (1994). On the first page Magda Danvers, a fifty-eight-year-old professor of English literature, bluntly informs her department chair that her teaching days are over: "It seems the Great Uncouth has taken up permanent residence inside me.. . . Well, I always was a good student; now I must see what I can learn from my final teacher" (p. 3). Not only is Magda fortunate in her husband's sensitive caretaking, but she has some happy memories of the past to ease her journey. These recollections provide a respite from too relentless a focus on Magda's current state. Nonetheless, we learn many details of her progressing cancer.
Two other important novels develop similar themes. Carol Shield's prize-winning The Stone Diaries (1993) takes her protagonist Daisy Flett from birth to death. Although Daisy's midlife is by far her most productive part of her life, her retirement in Florida and her final days in a hospital and rest home are carefully depicted. Margaret Drabble's The Witch of Exmoor (1996) illuminates the effect of a powerful mother's death upon her children and grandchildren. Frieda Haxby Palmer, the grandmother, tries to write her memoirs but cannot come to terms with memories of her sister who committed suicide many years before. In the final envoi, which takes place in heaven, she recognizes that she has inflicted the same hurt on her children and grandchildren as her mother had imposed upon her.
Besides these novels, middle-aged and older memorists have described the death of kinfolk with remarkable empathy for the feelings and dignity of the failing person (see Wyatt-Brown and Waxman). Literary critic Nancy Miller has written movingly of her father's last years. Moreover, Madeleine L'Engle and Philip Roth (see Waxman, 1997) have poignantly recounted the death of near relations. L'Engle's The Summer of the Great-Grandmother (1974) depicts the decline of her ninety-year-old mother from dementia; in the second, Two Part Invention (1988), the death of her husband from cancer. Another important work is Philip Roth's Patrimony (1991), an account of the deterioration and demise of his once vigorous father. John Bayley reports what living with Alzheimer's disease can be like. His wife, the English novelist Iris Murdoch, was reduced to a second childhood, but Bayley found some joy in what otherwise might have been a desperate situation. Miller, L'Engle, Roth, and Bayley leaven misery by recalling happy episodes from their relatives' early lives. Their words challenge the power of disease and death to obliterate personality.
Miller, L'Engle, and Roth, not their parents, described their final days. Like Elinor Fuchs who dramatizes her mother's vigorous ten-year battle with Alzheimer's disease, however, they tried hard not to substitute their own feelings for parental ones (see Gullette, 2000). Scholars, such as Ruth Ray, have organized writing groups in which they encourage older people to begin the task of creating their own memoirs. Dying people are rarely able to chronicle their own decline, desirable as that might be. One exception is Claire Philip (1995) whose "Lifelines: A Journal and Poems" illustrates her changing feelings as she approaches an imminent death. Philip's training as a clinical social worker provided her the necessary detachment to analyze her emotions after her midlife was disrupted by the news that she had developed an incurable cancer.
Two novels and a diary shed light on the possibility of heroism in our times. The novels come to different conclusion. Ernest Gaines's A Gathering of Old Men (1983) takes place in Louisiana in the 1970s. It chronicles the resistance of a group of elderly African American men to white supremacy. In contrast, Aharon Appelfeld's The Iron Tracks (1991) suggests that for some Holocaust survivors heroism is not possible. The depressed survivor finally tracks down the elderly SS officer who killed his parents. He shoots him, but vengeance brings no pleasure. He resolves to return to the place of his liberation, to burn the town down. Grandiose as his plan is, he entertains no hope of mastering the crippling shame, which has ruined his life.
Real life, however, sometimes offers surprising opportunities. Victor Klemperer and his wife Eva undertook a heroic journey at the end of World War II. His diaries describe the daily life of Jews whose marriage to Aryans spared them from a concentration camp. He and his wife were in their late fifties when the war broke out. Stubborn Germanophiles, they had refused to leave Dresden for possible emigration to the United States. For them the American bombing of Dresden was fortuitous. The Nazis were about to deport the last remnants of the Jewish community to a concentration camp, hoping to exterminate as many as possible in the waning moments of the war. Eva, who in her early sixties was not in robust health, masterminded their escape. She encouraged Klemperer to remove his Jewish star. The two elderly, half-starved survivors took trains, hitched rides, and walked from Dresden to Munich. Going from friend to friend, they sought refuge until the American forces entered Munich. As soon as the Allies declared victory, the Klemperers began the long trek back to Dresden to reclaim the house and job they had lost during the Nazi terror. One can only admire the intrepidity of this aging couple for undertaking so perilous a journey in the closing years of their lives.
Anne M. Wyatt-Brown
See also Ageism; Creativity; Images of Aging; Narrative; Visual Arts and Aging.
novels and diaries
Amis, K. The Old Devils. New York: Summit Books, 1986.
Appelfeld, A. The Iron Tracks. Translated by Jeffrey M. Green. New York: Schocken Books,1998.
Austin, M. Gabriel Churchkitten. New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, Inc., 1942.
Brown, M. W. The Runaway Bunny. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1942.
Brown, M. W. Good Night Moon. New York: Harper & Row, 1947.
Burnett, F. H. Little Lord Fauntleroy. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1886.
Danicat, E. Breath, Eyes, Memory. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 1994.
de Brunhoff, J. The Story of Babar: The Little Elephant. 1933. Translated by Merle S. Haas. New York: Random House, 1960.
Douglas, E. Apostles of Light. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1973.
Drabble, M. The Witch of Exmoor. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1996.
Forster, E. M. A Passage to India. 1924. London: Edward Arnold, 1978.
Gaines, E. A Gathering of Old Men. New York: Vantage Books, 1983.
Galsworthy, J. The Man of Property and Indian Summer of a Forsyte. 1918. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1969.
Galsworthy, J. Swan Song. 1928. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1969.
Garcia, C. Dreaming in Cuban: A Novel. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992.
Godwin, G. The Good Husband. New York: Ballantine Books, 1994.
Hassler, J. Simon's Night. 1979. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992.
Hoban, R. Bedtime for Frances. New York: Harper & Row, 1960.
Horner, J. That Time of Year: A Chronicle of Life in a Nursing Home. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1982.
Ibsen, H. "The Master Builder." In Six Plays by Henrik Ibsen: A Doll's House, Ghosts, An Enemy of the People, Rosmersholm, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder. New York: Modern Library, 1892. Pages 429–510.
Isherwood, C. A Single Man. 1964. New York: Bard, 1978.
Ishiguro, K. The Remains of the Day. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989.
Johnston, A. F. Little Colonel Series. 1895. Boston: The Page Company, 1921.
Klemperer, V. I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years, 1933–1941. Translated by Martin Chalmers. New York: Random House, 1995.
Klemperer, V. I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years, 1942–1945. Translated by Martin Chalmers. New York: Random House, 1995.
Langton, J. Good and Dead. New York: Penguin Books, 1986.
L'Engle, M. The Summer of the Great Grandmother. San Francisco: Perennial Library, Harper & Row, 1974.
L'Engle, M. A Severed Wasp. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1982.
L'Engle, M. Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1988.
Lively, P. Spiderweb. New York: HarperFlamingo, 1998.
Lodge, D. Therapy. New York: Viking, 1995.
Lurie, A. The Last Resort: A Novel. New York: Holt, 1998.
Marshall, P. Praisesong for the Widow. New York: Plume, 1983.
McCloskey, R. Burt Dow: Deep-Water Man. New York: The Viking Press, 1963.
Michener, J. A. Recessional. New York: Random House, 1994.
Miller, N. K. Bequest and Betrayal: Memoirs of a Parent's Death. New York: Oxford University Press, 1966.
Minarik, E. H. Little Bear. New York: Harper & Row, 1957.
Montgomery, L. M. Anne of Green Gables. 1908. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1935.
Morrison, T. Jazz. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.
Mortimer, P. The Handyman. London: Allen Lane, 1983.
Philip, C. E. "Lifelines: A Journal and Poem." Journal of Aging Studies 9, no. 4 (1995): 265–322.
PrØysen, A. Little Old Mrs. Pepperpot and Other Stories. Translated by Björn Berg. Harmondsworth, Middlesex England: Puffin Books, 1961.
Pym, B. Quartet in Autumn. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1977.
Roth, H. Call It Sleep. 1934. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1991.
Roth, H. Mercy of a Rude Stream: A Star Shines Over Mt. Morris Park. Vol. 1. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994.
Roth, H. Mercy of a Rude Stream: A Diving Rock on the Hudson. Vol. 2. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995.
Roth, H. Mercy of a Rude Stream: From Bondage. Vol. 3. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996.
Roth, H. Mercy of a Rude Stream: Requiem for Harlem. Vol. 4. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998.
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. New York: Scholastic, 1998.
Sartan, M. Endgame: A Journal of the Seventy-ninth Year. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1992.
Sartan, M. Encore: A Journal of the Eightieth Year. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1993.
Sartan, M. At Eighty Two: A Journal. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1996.
Scott, M. F. The Measure of My Days. New York: Penguin Books, 1968.
Scott, P. Staying On. London: Granada, 1977.
Shields, C. The Stone Diaries. New York: Viking, 1993.
Spyri, J. Heidi. 1880. Translated by Eileen Hall. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Puffin Books, 1956.
Stegner, W. Crossing to Safety. New York: Random House, 1987.
Taylor, P. "In the Miro District." In In the Miro District and Other Stories. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977. Pages 159–204.
Wiesel, E. The Forgotten. Translated by Stephen Becker. New York: Schocken Books, 1992.
Yezierska, A. Bread Givers. 1925. New York: Persea Books, 1975.
Yezierska, A. Arrogant Beggar. 1927. Durham: Duke University Press, 1996.
Berman, H. J. Interpreting the Aging Self: Personal Journals of Later Life. New York: Springer Publishing Company, 1994.
Deats, S. M. "The Dialectic of Aging in Shakespeare's King Lear and The Tempest." In Aging and Identity: A Humanities Perspective. Edited by Sara Munson Deats and Lagretta Tallent Lenker. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1999. Pages 23–32.
Fuchs, E. "Making an Exit." In Figuring Age: Women, Bodies, Generations. Edited by Kathleen Woodward. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999. Pages 340–348.
Gullette, M. M. Safe at Last in the Middle Years: The Invention of the Midlife Progress Novel: Saul Bellow, Margaret Drabble, Anne Tyler, and John Updike. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.
Gullette, M. M. Declining to Decline: Cultural Combat and the Politics of the Midlife. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1997.
Gullette, M. M. "Age Studies as Cultural Studies." In Handbook of the Humanities and Aging. Edited by Thomas R. Cole, Robert Kastenbaum, and Ruth E. Ray. New York: Springer Publishing Company, 2000. Pages 214–234.
Mangum, T. "Little Women: The Aging Female Character in Nineteenth-Century British Children's Literature." In Figuring Age: Women, Bodies, Generations. Edited by Kathleen Woodward. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1999. Pages 59–87.
Mangum, T. "Literary History as a Tool of Gerontology." In Handbook of the Humanities and Aging. Edited by Thomas R. Cole, Robert Kastenbaum, and Ruth E. Ray. New York: Springer Publishing Company, 2000. Pages 62–76.
Ray, R. E. Beyond Nostalgia: Aging and Life-Story Writing. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000.
Rooke, C. "Old Age in Contemporary Fiction: A New Paradigm of Hope." In Handbook of the Humanities and Aging. Edited by Thomas R. Cole, David D. Van Tassel, and Robert Kastenbaum. New York: Springer Publishing Company, 1992. Pages 241–257.
Waxman, B. F. To Live in the Center of the Moment: Literary Autobiographies of Aging. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1997.
Wyatt-Brown, A. M., and Waxman, B. F. Aging in Literature, Brief Bibliography: A Selected Bibliography For Gerontological Instruction. Washington, D.C.: Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, 1999.
"Literature and Aging." Encyclopedia of Aging. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 12, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/literature-and-aging
"Literature and Aging." Encyclopedia of Aging. . Retrieved December 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/literature-and-aging
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