Korri's Reviews > On Being Ill

On Being Ill by Virginia Woolf
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's review
Jun 28, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: health-disease-medicine, essays, body
Read on June 28, 2011

When we're ill, we are usually so beaten over by the waves of uncomfortable sensations that we don't wish to think deeply and linger in the memory of illness after it ends. I'm so glad Virginia Woolf thought to dwell on illness and crystallize her thoughts about how we live through the smudged or rosy glass pane of our bodies; how illness changes our relation to productivity and the values of larger society; and how reading and our relationship to words change under the sway of illness.

'In illness words seem to possess a mystic quality, We grasp what is beyond their surface meaning, gather instinctively this, that, and the other--a sound, a colour, here a stress, there a pause--which the poet, knowing words to be meagre in comparison with ideas, has strewn about his page to evoke, when collected, a state of mind which neither words can express nor the reason explain.' (p. 21)

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