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Novelist Reynolds Price's personal memoir

Novelist Reynolds Price's personal memoir A Whole New Life: An Illness and a Healing was written in 1994, ten years after he was told that he had cancer of the spinal cord and no hope of recovery. The book centers on the redemptive role of his illness, a condition that left him a paraplegic. The words of the title, "a whole new life," sums up the book's major theme. Losing his old way of life, Price opts to make a new life for himself. The book has several major issues and concerns.

The first point Price makes is that ignorance is good when you are faced with a life-threatening situation. Don't probe for news, he advises. Even when physicians believe your illness is fatal, it may not be so. Even doctors cannot know for sure what a patient's powers of recovery are. "My instinct to hunker on in ignorance strengthened with every sight of a doctor" (32).

Another point made by Price is that physicians, especially specialists, have a horrible manner with patients and generally do not treat their patients humanely. He refers to his "coldest freeze-dried doctor" to make the observation that "inhumanity is appallingly common in the upper reaches of that profession" (55).

Price notes that doctors are often excused for their brusk, indifferent or cold behavior because they have not been trained in humane relations, or they see so much pain and death that they have to put on a shell of protection. Price does not accept these excuses. He believes physicians should engage in "decent concern" (56).

Price's spiritual life is one of the books major topics. The author makes two key points concerning his religious beliefs. One is that his illness, suffering and loss of mobility strengthened his religious beliefs rather than destroying them.

As a child, he was brought up as a Christian but his family did not attend church. His illness gave him a hunger for spiritual insight. He vividly describes a vision of Jesus he had while under...

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Novelist Reynolds Price's personal memoir. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 07:54, July 24, 2024, from