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Sjukdom som metafor by Susan Sontag
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Sjukdom som metafor (original 1978; edition 2001)

by Susan Sontag

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4131225,720 (3.91)18
Member:SusanSontag
Title:Sjukdom som metafor
Authors:Susan Sontag
Info:[Stockholm] : Natur och Kultur, 2001.
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Illness as Metaphor by Susan Sontag (Author) (1978)

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Sontag's long essay on the metaphors associated with disease is both necessary and thought-provoking. With a focus on TB and cancer, Sontag presents the developmental history of metaphoric associations related to disease, discussing the ways in which these metaphors have evolved and controlled various discussions over the years. Her careful look at inaccuracies and comparisons, along with her clear presentations of metaphors (and related themes) is smart and nuanced, particularly when she looks into the clusters of words used in association with the diseases (ie. military language, language of punishment/justice, etc.) and when she expands on the mindsets that contribute to such discussions (ie. romanticism, paranoia, fear, etc.).

For me, the one drawback to her discussion is that I'd like to see more of a discussion of how these metaphors and approaches have affected not only our language, but the people who are personally affected/infected and/or working with the diseases in question.

Overall, though, this is a straightforward and intelligent look at disease and metaphor, and the ways in which our popular understandings of disease have developed (often faultily). Well worth the time, and highly recommended. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Nov 25, 2012 |
Illness as metaphor is a long essay by Susan Sontag about the way we write and think about TB and cancer. The essay is extremely well-researched, citing many instances of the use of these two diseases in metaphorical sense. With references to earlier diseases and epidemics, such as the Plague, Sontag argues that the way we talk about cancer can be explained by reviewing the way people used to talk about TB, before its mystery was solved. Once the mystery, viz. its cause, is discovered, fear dissipates and the disease is brought back to human proportions. Cancer, the cause of which is still unknown, is still largely seen as a great enemy, shrouded in mystery. The comparison and description works very well on the level of the disease and its effect on people, but the final section, section 9, is much less successful. In this section Sontag tries to stretch the metaphor to express the state of the social order or politics. This section seems much less well researched, and quite ineffective. ( )
  edwinbcn | Jan 2, 2012 |
90 pages of brillance.
  mdstarr | Sep 11, 2011 |
Sontag, a cancer survivor at the time, wrote this book to explore and elucidate the metaphors used to describe serious illnesses like cancer and tuberculosis. Sontag argues that the metaphors and mythology created around these diseases make them seem evil and mysterious and very much like invincible predators, and hence sometimes prevent people from believing in conventional treatment to cure them. In addition, since cancer is seen as obscene, repugnant to the senses, and ill-omened, the person suffering from it is seen as morally, if not literally, contagious. Cancer occupies the spot reserved for TB in the past as a shameful disease meaning imminent death, but unlike TB, which was seen as a more ethereal, and metaphorically, a disease of the soul, cancer is definitely a disease of the body, and many times of its more shameful parts like colon or rectum. Both TB and cancer have been seen as diseases of passion- TB as a result of too much of it, and cancer as a result of too little.
Sontag argues that patients are hardly helped by seeing and hearing all possible evils compared to cancer, and hopes that with advances in the treatment cancer the metaphors will become obsolete.

An interesting book, and since written before the times of AIDS very true about the place cancer and TB have occupied in our mythology. Maybe a bit too repetitious. I did not realize how many famous people suffered from and died of tuberculosis. ( )
  Niecierpek | May 12, 2011 |
It is not hard to see why this is a classic, even though some of it now seems dated. I had no idea that there was such a stigma attached to cancer in the mid 20th century, but Sontag's elucidation of the language used to describe cancer and tuberculosis is brilliant. ( )
  wrmjr66 | Oct 16, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sontag, SusanAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Grasman, GerardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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for Robert Silvers
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Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship.
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This LT work is Susan Sontag's 1977/78 book, Illness as Metaphor. Please do not combine it with the omnibus edition, Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors. Thank you
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374520739, Paperback)

This book was originally published in 1977 and the first edition in paperback by this publisher occurred in 1988. It is about being "unwell" as opposed to being healthy. For example (page 7) the author pleads (because of the fantasies concocted around cancer) for cancer patients "not to be told the truth but rather to rectify the conception of the disease, to de-mythicize (sic) it." She contends that illness is not a metaphor, and the most truthful way of regarding illness - and the healthiest way of being ill - is to resist such metaphoric thinking.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:55 -0400)

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Penguin Australia

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