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What Her Body Thought: A Journey Into the Shadows
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What Her Body Thought: A Journey Into the Shadows

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  59 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
In this boldly intimate and intelligent blend of personal memoir, social history, and cultural criticism, Susan Griffin profoundly illuminates our understanding of illness. She explores its physical, emotional, spiritual, and social aspects, revealing how it magnifies our yearning for connection and reconciliation. Griffin begins with a gripping account of her own harrowin ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 7th 1999 by HarperOne (first published January 1st 1999)
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Jun 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing account of one woman's struggle with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Disorder syndrome in the present paralleled with the story of a courtesan in France dying of tuberculosis. The courtesan is the one that Greta Garbo portrays in the 1936 movie Camille. Camille gave up her life for that of the man she loved.

The book focuses, to a large extent, on the social, political and economic aspects of having a chronic illness and how vulnerable it makes one emotionally and socially.

It's not
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Chronic illness memoir AND literary criticism/history? Sign me the fuck up. *heart eyes emoji*
Jan 25, 2017 rated it liked it
A rambling stream-of-consciousness book that's more philosophy than memoir. I really enjoyed it when it actually talked about Griffin's experiences with chronic fatigue syndrome, but it meandered too much and I was pretty happy to be done.
This book is slow going--it's one pearl of wisdom after another. Most interesting are Griffin's insights about the life of Marie Duplessis (the model for the Marguerite Gautier, "Camille") and those of Alexandre Dumas pere and fils, in particular, her description of poverty, household funds gained and lost, and slavery. But I lost my patience when she began examining her childhood in excruciating detail, looking for the causes of her chronic fatigue syndrome. Her gaze is intense, and she does no ...more
Heidi Kuchta
Mar 02, 2015 rated it liked it
I was intrigued by the interconnecting ideas about disease, desire, and human connection presented by Ms. Griffin, but found myself annoyed with the writer's self-professed obsession with Camille. In other words, her literary/film critique and analysis of Camille (the character and Greta Garbo movie) was boring to me as someone who has never seen the movie, but I stuck it out for the rest of the book and overall am happy I read it. It's a topic (or range of topics) I am interested in exploring i ...more
Janene AKA Ms. Palumbo
Mar 13, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Someone who has seen the movie Camille... no not even them
BOOOOORRRIIINNGG...... This book spends the first chapter and unfortunately many other chapters comparing the author's life with movie I've never seen. I did like the part of the author describing her body as seen through the mind of child but that was not nearly enough for me to finish this book.
Stopping 1/4 of the way through. The language and writing were nice, but I felt like it was tough with the cognitive challenges of CFS/ME.
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Susan Griffin is an award winning poet, writer, essayist and playwright who has written nineteen books, including A Chorus of Stones, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Named by Utne reader as one of the top hundred visionaries of the new millenium, she is the recipient of an Emmy for her play Voices, an NEA grant and a MacArthur Grant for Peace and Inter ...more
More about Susan Griffin
“The hope you feel when you are in love is not necessarily for anything in particular. Love brings something inside you to life. Perhaps it is just the full dimensionality of your own capacity to feel that returns. In this state you think no impediment can be large enough to interrupt your passion. The feeling spills beyond the object of your love to color the whole world. The mood is not unlike the mood of revolutionaries in the first blush of victory, at the dawn of hope. Anything seems possible. And in the event of failure, it will be this taste of possibility that makes disillusion bitter.” 7 likes
“Is it a coincidence that stories from the private life became more popular just as the grand hope for public redemption through revolution was beginning to sour? I witnessed a similar shift in taste in my own time. In the 1960s, while a hopeful vision of a just society arose again, countless poems and plays concerning politics and public life were written, read, and performed. But after the hope diminished and public life seemed less and less trustworthy, this subject was less in style.” 1 likes
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