Illness as Metaphor

  • 530 ₽
  • 470 ₽
Moscow, Gorky Park
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Moscow, Narkomfin Building
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St. Petersburg, New Holland Island
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  • Year: 2016
  • Language: Russian
  • Publisher: Ad Marginem
  • ISBN: 9785911033088
  • Page: 176
  • Cover: paperback
  • About the Book

Diagnosed with cancer in the late 1970s, Sontag found herself in a situation where her disease became a metaphor for a number of taboo subjects, including death. In the first essay, written in 1978, she calls on the medical profession to abandon pseudo-scientific practices and give patients full and precise information about their diagnosis and prognosis. The second essay, in which Sontag takes on AIDS—“the plague of the 20th century”—, was written only a few years after AIDS was discovered, when thousands of HIV-infected people were still dying because of the lack of reliable information on the virus. The imagery that developed around AIDS was even stronger than that associated with cancer, its “alien” nature and “mysterious” etiology commonly related to the notions of vice, promiscuity and squalor (it is a common belief that AIDS came to Western countries from Africa). People infected with HIV have been marginalized to an even greater extent than patients with cancer.


Written with a ten-year gap between them, Susan Sontag’s essays provide ample evidence for her main argument, that actual diseases might in fact sometimes be less harmful than the cultural discourse surrounding them. “The metaphors and myths, I was convinced, kill.”

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