On Being Ill

Virginia Woolf Hermione Lee


On Being Ill

On Being Ill

  • Title: On Being Ill
  • Author: Virginia Woolf Hermione Lee
  • ISBN: 9781930464063
  • Page: 261
  • Format: Hardcover

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In this poignant and humorous work, Virginia Woolf observes that though illness is part of every human being s experience, it has never been the subject of literature like the acceptable subjects of war and love We cannot quote Shakespeare to describe a headache We must, Woolf says, invent language to describe pain And though illness enhances our perceptions, she oIn this poignant and humorous work, Virginia Woolf observes that though illness is part of every human being s experience, it has never been the subject of literature like the acceptable subjects of war and love We cannot quote Shakespeare to describe a headache We must, Woolf says, invent language to describe pain And though illness enhances our perceptions, she observes that it reduces self consciousness it is the great confessional Woolf discusses the cultural taboos associated with illness and explores how illness changes the way we read Poems clarify and astonish, Shakespeare exudes new brilliance, and so does melodramatic fiction On Being Ill was published as an individual volume by Hogarth Press in 1930 While other Woolf essays, such as A Room of One s Own and Three Guineas, were first published by Hogarth as individual volumes and have since been widely available, On Being Ill has been overlooked The Paris Press edition features original cover art by Woolf s sister, the painter Vanessa Bell Hermione Lee s Introduction discusses this extraordinary work, and explores Woolf s revelations about poetry, language, and illness.


Recent Comments "On Being Ill"

“We do not know our own souls, let alone the souls of others. Human beings do not go hand in hand the whole stretch of the way. There is a virgin forest in each; a snowfield where even the print of birds' feet is unknown. Here we go alone, and like it better so. Always to have sympathy, always to be accompanied, always to be understood would be intolerable.”

We do not know our souls, let alone the souls of others. An ode to illness. Another inspiration.She asks for its presence in literature, as her wit silences desperate voices fighting for her attention we go down into the pit of death and feel the waters of annihilation close above our heads and wake thinking to find ourselves in the presence of the angels and the harpers when we have a tooth out and come to the surface in the dentist's arm-chair Her passionate lyricism blends in perfectly with t [...]

I was reading these wonderful pieces by Virginia Woolf and her mother, Julia Stephen, last Saturday morning, in bed, sipping coffee and nibbling a piece of toast when I came across this sentence: The origin of most things has been decided on, but the origin of crumbs in bed has never excited sufficient attention among the scientific world, though it is a problem which has tormented many a weary sufferer. I will forbear to give my own explanation, which may be neither scientific nor orthodox, and [...]

msarki.tumblr/post/5237230But in illness, with the police off duty, we creep beneath some obscure poems by Mallarmé or Donne, some phrase in Latin or Greek, and the words give out their scent and distill their flavor, and then, if at last we grasp the meaning, it is all the richer for having come to us sensually first, by way of the palate and the nostrils, like some queer odour. Foreigners, to whom the tongue is strange, have us at a disadvantage. ___ Virginia Woolf from On Being Ill Had I kno [...]

Es posible encontrar belleza incluso en las temáticas más tristes u oscuras. En la enfermedad podemos encontrar la lividez, el recuerdo de estar sanos, incluso el romanticismo de los síntomas que acompañan algunas enfermedades célebres para (o entre) los artistas: no existe ningún objeto prohibido al arte, porque todo es posible convertirlo en objeto de admiración.De ese modo piensa Virginia Woolf que en De la enfermedad, se permite jugar con nuestras expectativas: nos hace pensar que cri [...]

CONSIDERING how common illness is, how tremensdous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to light, what precipices and lawns sprinkled with bright flowers a little rise of temperature reveals, what ancient and obdurate oaks are uprooted in us in the act of sickness, how we go down into the pit of death and feel the waters o [...]

Reading Virginia Woolf for me is like reading a much more eloquent version of my own personal journals I keep. She looks inside herself and empties what she finds onto the pages in a way that not only I can identify with but that I marvel at. Her prose is an unstructured poem that I can never get enough of. I'm an 18 year old girl who has lived with a debilitating chronic illness for the past 3 years and will continue to have my entire life. When I found this essay I just about cried. The way sh [...]

Virginia Woolf analyzes illness from the perspective of one who has spent much of her life haunted by its specter. Although illness is experienced differently by each person, she probes collective feelings of being ill: the self pity, the delusions, the inability to imagine existence without it. This book is powerful.

Quand la maladie nous oblige à descendre du train en marche, notre perception du monde, du temps, du corps, de la liberté se transforment. Un simple pas de côté et la vie devient comédie. Putain, cette fille, c'est de la poésie à toutes les pages. Je voudrais passer une heure avec chacune de ses phrases, choisir celle que je préfère, l'apprendre par cœur mais j'en trouve une qui me plait tout autant, si ce n'est plus à chaque page qui suit.(p36-37) "En temps normal, nous devons avec a [...]

I liked the subject matter and the connection/metaphor/mention Woolf makes with nature and flowers, but after reading it straight through I was left a bit confused and had to reread a few passages to make sense of Woolf's point/claim.

This was a lovely, meandering little essay on illness, its place in literature, the states of mind that it engenders, and how the acts of writing and reading are influenced by it. In spite of the subject matter, the tone of the piece is frequently very playful, and outright funny in parts. There are also, of course, treatments of isolation, melancholy, and death that one would rightly expect from an essay on being ill. The occasionally long, convoluted, dreamy sentences do a good job of evoking [...]

VW's thoughts into words on the inadequacy of language to capture what it is to be unwell, unfit, ill. Her mother too, before her, a regular at sick beds all the while raising her own and stepchildren nursing those in need and recording her bedside accumulated practical knowledge for palliative care. Taken together this volume gives look to what has always been difficult to grasp human need for comprehension of the as yet unknowable realm of suffering. Empathy is as close as can get but still la [...]

Virginia Woolf's article "On Being Ill" is paired with her mother's guide to amateur nursing, "Notes From Sick Rooms." Hermione Lee and Mark Hussey provide wonderful accompanying essays on the context in which these pieces were written and the interesting ways in which reading them together assists in understanding Woolf, Stephen, and illness. I loved the writing in Woolf's "On Being Ill" (I had to pause every paragraph just to savor the words) and found Stephen's guide to be a lovely historical [...]

Oh, Virginia, why must you be so coy? You've written so little on a topic I know you knew so well, and what you have written is veiled in literary references. I'm enticed by phrases like,"the army of the upright," and who hasn't lived the saga of influenza? Isn't it true that illness frees us from the expectations of the everyday, lets us say what we really mean? I wish this essay were at least four times as long, but then, I suppose you wrote it while you were ill, and you really didn't have th [...]

"We do not know our own souls, let alone the souls of others. Human beings do not go hand in hand the whole stretch of the way. There is a virgin forest in each; a snowfield where even the print of birds' feet is unknown. Here we go alone, and like it better so. Always to have sympathy, always to be accompanied, always to be understood would be intolerable."

Only a brilliant woman could have written this essay. Must Read.

"Foreigners, to whom the tongue is strange, have us at a disadvantage. The Chinese must know the sound of Antony and Cleopatra better than we do."

At first glance, the book can be condensed to something like "illness is a significant part of life, but literature mostly avoids it." It is odd, actually, given how often literature is meant to alter, broaden, or deepen our perception and understanding of our lives and of the world, that it so rarely seems to explore illness. Oddly, it does seem content to explore mortality and suffering -- just not so much if it has to do with a prolonged illness. It occurs to me that the central truth of illn [...]

I love Virginia Woolf's writing and the topics she chooses to write about. As someone suffering from a chronic illness I was excited at the prospect of this book, and eager to hear her thoughts. It wasn't as easily accessible as I wanted it to be, but captured a feeling as only she can.This short essay flows from topic to topic in Woolf's signature winding style, pausing here and there to recall a quote, pick up a thread, or lay out some breathtaking imagery or metaphor. As much as I appreciate [...]

This is at 28 page essay. The margins are HUGE. So probably a 20 page essay. It is very lyrical, but ends sort of abruptly- like she was ill while writing it and drifted off to sleep. I bought it because I have a similar mental illness to the author. While she does include melancholy as one a period of illness, it addresses fevers and flu more often. This is because her illness she had while writing this book was both mental and physical. During her mental illness her treatment included isolatio [...]

parispress/shop/on-beiIn this poignant and humorous essay, Virginia Woolf observes that though illness is a part of every human being’s experience, it has rarely been the focus of literature — unlike the traditionally acceptable subjects of war, love, and betrayal. We cannot quote Shakespeare to describe a headache. We must, Woolf says, invent language to describe pain. Illness enhances our perceptions and, she observes, it reduces self-consciousness; it is "the great confessional." Woolf di [...]

lovely and stimulating all the same

In illness we are more visibly slaves to the body. We may think we are all soul/intellect, wrapped up in a shell, but illness serves only to emphasize a truth always present: how entirely our outlook is shaped by the bodily experience. Woolf describes an appreciation of Nature's dominion, and other poetic ideas taken in through our bodily senses when we are stripped of our overruling intellect (through illness). In this way illness awakens us to new horizons, new sensory outlooks; we can acquain [...]

This is the 2nd work I read for Virginia Woolf and I love how critical her way of writing is. It's so rational & realistic but descriptively beautiful at the same time. It's not that hard to understand nor is it dull to read. I think I'll go on into reading her known stories like "To The Lighthouse" & so forth.

This edition, by Paris Press, creates an engaging dialogue between mother and daughter through their own works on illness/ caretaking. I love Virginia Woolf and I think her meditation on illness and its ties with creativity, as well as her notice of its lack of representation in literature (something beginning to shift in the twenty-first century) is quite accurate and interesting.

This is especially haunting if you read it straight after finishing The Voyage Out. That's what I did - by pure accident - and it honestly feels like an epilogue of sorts for that book. What can I say? It's only a couple of pages long, but, to me, it's still worth 5 stars.

small, lovely, and perfect for a gloomy Sunday morning in bed.

Despite being published in book form this is an essay and a short one at that. It was published (republished) about 15 years ago with a detailed introduction by the Woolf expert Hermoine Lee. Lee provided excellent insight into the essay. I was excited to read the essay as it is often quoted (or at least one or two lines are). The often used quote: "The merest schoolgirl, when she falls in love, has Shakespeare and Keats to speak her mind for her; but let a sufferer try to describe a headache an [...]

This is a really fast read, but I enjoyed it. I've had ME/CFS for the past three years, and although I am mildly affected compared to others, it has still really shaken up my life, and there are lots of times when I am stuck in bed or resting and I find that very difficult. There is something comforting in Woolf's recognition of the struggles of the body, the inadequacy of language for describing illness, the neglect of writing on illness, and the challenges of convalescing. Her insight into the [...]

I began reading this book on Christmas and then a few hours later came down with the flu. Though I was too sick to continue reading for a few days, it was my by side until I was better and somehow that was quite a comfort to me. Later I learned Woolf's thoughts on the role of words (poetry, especially) in a time of illness. A brilliant, quick read.


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