Illness as Metaphor
In 1978 Susan Sontag wrote Illness as Metaphor, a classic work described by Newsweek as "one of the most liberating books of its time." A cancer patient herself when she was writing the book, Sontag shows how the metaphors and myths surrounding certain illnesses, especially cancer, add greatly to the suffering of patients and often inhibit them from seeking proper treatmen...more
Her subject is not physical illness itself but the uses of the various diseases as a figure or metaphor f ...more
“But how to be morally severe in the late twentieth century? How, when there is so much to be severe about; how, when we have a sense of evil but no longer the religious or philosophical language to talk intelligently about evil? Trying to comprehend “radical” or “absolute” evil, we search for adequate metaphors. But the modern disease metaphors are all cheap shots. The people who have the real diseases are also hardly helped by hearing their disease’s name constantly being dropped as the epi...more
Still, I just want to say that I really did enjoy this. I particularly liked the idea that the metaphors for TB and cancer are so differently understood in our culture. I was particularly struck by the idea that cancer is a kind of hardening of cells and that TB is a kind of liqu ...more
I was to describe, not what it is really like to emigrate to the kingdom of the ill and live there, but the punitive or sentimental fantasies concocted about that sit ...more
On a personal level, I get this. She's suffered; we've all suffered or known others who've suffered. And on page 101, she says that her aim is to "alleviate unnecessary suffering." On the same page, she also says tha ...more
There are few observations which felt like contrivances to make her point (especially the cancer portions a bit). Few instances appeared to be surreptitiously personal (though the tone is objective throug ...more
The study exposes insightful analogy of two different illnesses, exploring the boundaries of their broader cultural and historical f ...more
Sontag is clear in writing about health speech, or ill health comparisons.
God bless and keep her.
I wished I had taken notes so I can better articulate my thoughts, but essentially I found it an enlightening read that I'm glad to have absorbed.
Sontag brings up some valid points about the way we regard diseases, especially tuberculosis and cancer. I haven't before viewed how often literature likens TB to be an affliction deeply connected with the person and his/her creative faculties instead of it just simply being an ailment.
She dives deep into how writers often romanticize TB but dispa ...more
Though I must say, unlike the other reviews on this site I didn't think she believed that we could really eradicate illness as a metaphor so perhaps I missed something. ...more
the real culpability of metaphors in the way we survive:
'TB is often imagined as a disease of poverty and deprivation... in contrast, cancer is a disease of middle-class life, a disease associated with affluence, with excess' (15).
'Like all really successful metaphors, the metaphor of TB was rich enough to provide for two contradictory applications...It was both a way of describing sensuality and promoting the claims of pa ...more
With that being said, Sontag's kind of a lazy writer. Like I get the sense that TB is this and cancer is that, but she doesn't do enough research to back up her claims. It's just like, claim, pseudo example, move down, second claim, etc. And that's something coming from me because I'm the laziest writer there is and ...more
I started reading it after a day and a half of having being shut in my room with a cold, not really seeing anyone and feeling kind of dramatic. And it was really soothing. The stuff about cancer as metaphor for middle class repression and emotional restraint made me think a lot about people I know with potentially fatal/terminal/incurable illnesses who have gone on the Gawler diet or similar; my mum and her p ...more
She has collected snippets from writers in a way that now would be heavily propped up by Google searches, that in her cas ...more
Her books include four novels, The Benefactor, Death Kit, The Volcano Lover, and In Am ...more