Publication details [#3800]

Curran, James. 2007. Review of: Susan Sontag, 'Illness as Metaphor; AIDS and its Metaphors'. München: Random House, 1990. ISBN: 0385267053, 192 pp. Revista Caderno Espaço Feminino 7618 : 517.
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It is not uncommon for people to write about their experience of experience. After the US writer Susan Sontag underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer, however, she took a different approach. 'Illness as Metaphor' examines in more general than personal terms how society regards illness and being ill, in particular "the punitive or sentimental fantasies concocted about that situation." In a sense she still writes from her experience in focusing on descriptions of cancer (with some comparisons with tuberculosis, the disease that killed her father), though drawing examples mainly from Western literature. The result is an important and influential essay that exposes some common and detrimental myths about illness. Sontag cites example after example from novels, essays, poems, and medical writings to show how cancer has traditionally been associated with repression and defeat. It is seen as a shameful disease and always as inevitably fatal, even in the late 20th century. (James Curran)