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By Susan Gubar. Published by WW Norton & Company, 2012, hardback, 296 pages. ISBN 978-0393073256, £16.99.
In the foreword to her Memoir of a Debulked Woman: Enduring Ovarian Cancer, the renowned literary scholar Susan Gubar forewarns readers that her first-person account of suffering from ovarian cancer and its treatments offers no comfort, spares no gruelling details about the harm they inflicted on her body and psyche, and ‘lack[s] directives’ that would guide other cancer patients through the course of their illness (xii). Gubar's ‘cancer travails’ reflect her particular life circumstances and may not accurately represent what others with similar diagnosis undergo. At the same time, Gubar acknowledges she is hardly the only woman confronting ‘the miserable inadequacies of current medical responses to ovarian cancer’ (xii). She and other sick women share the same concerns as they navigate—at a great physical and emotional cost—the incurable disease and its often injurious medical protocol. Accordingly, Memoir of a Debulked Woman is Gubar's impassioned and unflinching testimony that also registers as a vehement protest against the lack of awareness and prevention, late detection and ineffective treatment of ovarian cancer.
Diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in November 2008 at the age of 63, Susan Gubar is a critic celebrated for pioneering the study of women's literature. A prolific writer in her own right, with her longtime collaborator Sandra Gilbert, she coauthored The Madwoman in the Attic (1979), and coedited The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women (1985), both groundbreaking texts in feminist …
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.