I wasn't sure what to expect going into these essays, and was pleasantly surprised by how academic they are, which isn't to say that they aren't accessible, just that they reminded me of some of the best academic-style writing. I think both pieces are incredibly valuable, although I have to agree with most of the reviews I've read in saying that Illness as Metaphor is better than AIDS and Its Metaphors. The second essay still has a lot to like but at this point some of it is unavoidably dated (and I do wish there was a bit more discussion of the structural causes of AIDS and HIV infection-there's a bit but not much). Overall though I really, really liked both of these and think Sontag makes both useful and relevant points about the ways in which we use disease, illness, and suffering both positively and negatively as metaphor.
This book contains both Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and its Metaphors.
On the back of the book:
In 1978, while recovering from cancer, Susan Sontag wrote Illness as Metaphor, the celebrated essay on the invented and often punitive uses of illness in our culture. It has become a classic that Newsweek recently called "One of the most liberating books of its time." Her aim was to strip cancer of its symbolic stigma and show that it is only a disease. She argued that the most truthful way of regarding illness--and the healthiest way of being ill--is to resist such metaphoric thinking.
It was not surprising that a decade later, after the advent of AIDS, Sontag felt compelled to write a sequel that would counter the almost universal labeling of AIDS as a "plague." AIDS and Its Metaphors aims to free both patients and panicked population from the tyranny of a set of meanings that stand not for medical reality, but rather carry the burden of fears about the future.
Now, for the first time, these two brilliant works are being published in one paperback volume. Brimming with humane and original ideas about disease and the modern condition, they are compassionate exhortations, a liberating event.