978-0-394-72844-5 / 9780394728445






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About the book:

in this penetrating analysis of the social attitude toward various major illnesses - chiefly tuberculosis, the scourge of the 19th century, and cancer, the terror of our own - Susan Sonntag demonstrates that "illness is not a metaphor" and shows why "the healthiest way of being ill is one purified metaphoric thinking." Once tuberculosis was identified as a bacterial infection it ceased to be a symbol of a romantic fading away or of a sensitive or artistic temperament and it could be treated and cured. Similarly we must today ceased to think of cancer as a mark of doom, a punishment for a sign of repressed personality, and recognize it for what it is: one disease among many and often receptive to treatment.

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