Why this book?
Alphonse Daudet’s notebooks on pain are among the most explicit, honest, and consoling treatments of chronic illness ever written. Daudet was a contemporary of Flaubert, admired as a novelist of provincial France by such luminaries as Charles Dickens and Henry James. Like Flaubert, Daudet suffered from syphilis and he planned to write a book about his experience. He died before he could do that, but his notebooks survive. As someone who lives with chronic pain, I cherish Daudet’s frank but never saccharine advice and his commitment to compassion for others in the teeth of his own suffering.