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The Vault

Oct 22, 2018

In October of 1977, Susan Sontag delivered one of the institute’s five James Lectures for that year. Her topic was “Illness as Metaphor”. She explored the truth that it was no longer possible, as she wrote, “to take up one’s residence in the kingdom of the ill unprejudiced by the lurid metaphors with which it has been landscaped.” Though she did not directly reference it, she herself was being treated for breast cancer at the time. The lecture was published in 1978, first as three essays in the New York Review of Books, and then as a book. It went on to become one of Sontag’s best-known pieces of writing.