Tuesday, February 22, 2005

This introduction to a new edition of Virginia Woolf's "On Being Ill" (which I've been meaning to read for years) argues that bed rest can be a creative stimulus for a writer. I know that my illness as a teenager--while frought with sadness and shame and other negative baggage--was ultimately fruitful for my life as a writer. It gave me the time and space to think, to observe, to create myself outside of the whirlwind of highschool life. It might be time to resurrect my Sick Girl project.

Hermione Lee writes:

Why has illness not been as popular a subject for literature as love, (Woolf) asks in the essay? (This question could not be asked now). Why has the "daily drama of the body" not been recognised? Why does literature always insist on separating the mind, or the soul, from the body? Perhaps because the public would never accept illness as a subject for fiction; perhaps because illness requires a new language - "primitive, subtle, sensual, obscene". But illness is almost impossible to communicate. The invalid's demand for sympathy can never be met. Besides, illness really prefers solitude. "Here we go alone, and like it better so."

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