Why is cancer her Siberia? Cancer is the Siberia within the body. The definitions of Siberia and cancer are remarkably similar. Williams quotes the definition of cancer from the Oxford English Dictionary: anything that frets, corrodes, corrupts, or consumes slowly and secretly. I quote Shumakher, a Russian poet who wrote the following verse inspired by his first impression of Siberia:
O you, bitterness, cruel stepmother, Siberia,
Your snowy steppes have spread out far and wide:
Unfriendly, unfree, deserted, hostile,
Unappealing, inhospitable and cold.
Cancer, like Siberia is “cruel,” “hostile” and it “spread[s] out far and wide” within the body. This impression of Siberia provides an insight to some of the reasons behind Williams’ mother’s conclusion.
The physical landscape of both cancer an...
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