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On Being Ill [Hardcover]

By Virginia Woolf & Hermione Lee (Introduction by)
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Item description for On Being Ill by Virginia Woolf & Hermione Lee...

An essay that explores the theme of illness and why it has never been a subject of literature.

Publishers Description

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 more 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.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   64
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.25" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2002
Publisher   Paris Press
ISBN  1930464061  
ISBN13  9781930464063  

Availability  0 units.

More About Virginia Woolf & Hermione Lee

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Virginia Woolf was born in London in 1882, the daughter of Sir Leslie Stephen, first editor of The Dictionary of National Biography. From 1915, when she published her first novel, The Voyage Out, Virginia Woolf maintained an astonishing output of fiction, literary criticism, essays and biography. In 1912 she married Leonard Woolf, and in 1917 they founded The Hogarth Press. Virginia Woolf suffered a series of mental breakdowns throughout her life, and on 28 March 1941 she committed suicide.

Virginia Woolf was born in 1882 and died in 1941.

Virginia Woolf has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Modern Library Classics (Paperback)

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( W ) > Woolf, Virginia > General
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( W ) > Woolf, Virginia > Hardcover
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Essays > General
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > British > British > Woolf, Virginia

Reviews - What do customers think about On Being Ill?

A glowing perspective  Feb 27, 2004
In this discerning and somewhat humorous essay, Virginia Woolf remarks on humanity's experiences with illness, whether mental or physical, and on how it is rarely the subject of literature or art. She notes our contradictory nature toward sympathy and offers an opinion about what illness tells us about the natural world. Hermione Lee's fascinating introduction firmly places this remarkable work in the context of Woolf's life and writing. This Paris Press edition recreates the original artwork and typeset of the 1930 printing of "On Being Ill".
This is a short trip  Mar 24, 2003
This book is so small, the Introduction, pp. xi-xxxii, by Hermione Lee (April 15, 2002), plus notes to p. xxxiv, (the truly scholarly pages substantiating the material which ought to be considered, now that an entire book, VIRGINIA WOOLF'S ART AND MANIC-DEPRESSIVE ILLNESS by Thomas Caramagno (University of California Press, 1992) covers the topic), have more paragraphs than the main text, which only has nine or ten, unless you count multiple breaks for lines of some poet on p. 20 and Rimbaud at the top of p. 21 as indicating some flight beyond the normal bounds of the paragraph in which "Incomprehensibility has an enormous power over us in illness, more legitimately perhaps than the upright will allow" (p. 21) expresses itself as a single sentence.

The sentences are what astounds. The first sentence is constructed like an erudite train to somewhere: "Considering how ..., how ..., how astonishing ..., what ..., what ..., what ..., how we go down into the pit of death ...--when we think of this, as we are so frequently forced to think of it, it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love and battle and jealousy among the prime themes of literature." (pp. 3-4). This hardly gives a firm foundation for those humorous moment when the primary reaction of anyone who is not in on the joke is: I think I'm going to be sick.

A precious gift to readers  Mar 16, 2003
From its magnificent cover, to its brilliant and sensitive insights into the psychology of illness--being ill, being near someone who is ill, anticipating being ill or well again--this book is a jewel. I love the way it feels in my hands. I love the way my eyes roam over the pages. I love the way it feels beneath my pillow. I've given it to friends and they have given it to their friends. And I am so pleased that Paris Press--"beautiful and daring feminist books"--has reprinted it as Woolf and Vanessa Bell intended. Precious!
MUST READ  Dec 10, 2002
On Being Ill is a small masterpiece. This is a unique book--compassionate, intelligent, affirming, and comforting, both for the "healthy" among us, and those who have experienced illness. This is Woolf at her best: brilliant, daring, probing, and Hermione Lee's Introduction is a gem.

Also, for those of us who care about design, the book is a beauty, a work of art in itself.

Put this book among those most dear to you!


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