Being a Widow and Other Life Stories: The Interplay between Lives and Words



This article looks at life stories, not just as tales about the past but as creative acts of self-making and culture making. It explores life stories told by older women in West Bengal, India, focusing on one told by a childless widow. Previous scholars have made the important distinction between life as represented (through telling a story) and life as (actually) lived and experienced. This article suggests a somewhat different track: telling a life story—like other forms of talk or communication—is part of life as lived because, of course, it is lived and experienced, at least during the moments of telling.