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Dugard wrote her moving and dignified memoir without a ghostwriter.Dardenne, although enraged by the curiosity of the media and the invasive sympathy of the public, described writing her story as a way “to tidy those pieces away in my own memory bank but in a form which I hope will be once and for all and forever: a book on a shelf.Yet they follow the pattern of the captivity narrative, from the taking (“One fateful day in June of 1991 changed my life forever,” writes Jaycee Dugard, abducted when she was 11 and held for 18 years), through prolonged captivity, to release and return.
Of hers, Dugard writes, “He gives me hugs sometimes and makes me feel loved.” While the psychological shorthand for hostages who develop emotional attachments to their kidnappers is Stockholm syndrome, freed captives often protest the term’s simplification and pathologization of their experience. Dugard read fairy tales, mythology and romance novels by Nora Roberts and Danielle Steel. They found ways to observe and imagine, even to write in captivity.
As Natascha Kampusch, an Austrian woman kidnapped at the age of 10 and imprisoned for eight years until she was able to escape, writes: “Getting closer to the kidnapper is not an illness. Sabine Dardenne, a Belgian woman locked for 80 days in a cellar as a 12-year-old, “always had an eye for detail,” she notes, and “everything that I’d noticed or heard was etched on my brain.” Kampusch wrote short stories in her mind “that nobody would put on paper.” Eventually she managed to get paper and write her own science fiction novel.
Angela Carter’s 1979 novel “The Bloody Chamber” dwells lovingly on scented hothouse flowers, a ruby necklace, mirrors and .
But the realistic cells of captivity narratives are small, barren, dirty and dark.
Regarding the Indians as savages, she also learned to acknowledge their humanity, and to negotiate and bargain with them.
After being ransomed, Rowlandson relived her ordeal for many months in dreams and flashbacks of “the night season.” But as she slowly adjusted to her return, Rowlandson came to understand how much she had changed, and found emotional expression, religious grace and public acceptance through writing her story.
We should not feel guilty for wanting to read them.
An essay on June 9 about the literary theme of the abduction of women misstated the year that Mary Rowlandson, the author of an early colonial captivity narrative, was kidnapped by Narragansett Indians.
But what about the widely read books by and about the female survivors of kidnapping that have appeared in the last 10 years?
These range from “Bringing Elizabeth Home” (2003), by the parents of Elizabeth Smart; to the memoirs “I Choose to Live” (2005), by Sabine Dardenne, “3,096 Days” (2010), by Natascha Kampusch, and “A Stolen Life” (2011), by Jaycee Dugard; and the novel “Room” (2010), by Emma Donoghue, inspired by the cases of Dardenne, Kampusch and Josef Fritzl, an Austrian man who kept his daughter imprisoned in his basement for 24 years, fathering seven children with her. They have some affinity with classic Gothic fiction, in which women are imprisoned in castles with a lush décor symbolic of female sexuality — crimson draperies, jeweled caskets, veiled portraits.