[Ebook] Sontag: Her Life and Work By Benjamin Moser – Fanfaremedia.co.uk

Sontag: Her Life and Work summary Sontag: Her Life and Work, series Sontag: Her Life and Work, book Sontag: Her Life and Work, pdf Sontag: Her Life and Work, Sontag: Her Life and Work af43a5737e The Definitive Portrait Of One Of The American Century S Most Towering Intellectuals Her Writing And Her Radical Thought, Her Public Activism And Her Hidden Private FaceNo Writer Is As Emblematic Of The American Twentieth Century As Susan Sontag Mythologized And Misunderstood, Lauded And Loathed, A Girl From The Suburbs Who Became A Proud Symbol Of Cosmopolitanism, Sontag Left A Legacy Of Writing On Art And Politics, Feminism And Homosexuality, Celebrity And Style, Medicine And Drugs, Radicalism And Fascism And Freudianism And Communism And Americanism, That Forms An Indispensable Key To Modern Culture She Was There When The Cuban Revolution Began, And When The Berlin Wall Came Down In Vietnam Under American Bombardment, In Wartime Israel, In Besieged Sarajevo She Was In New York When Artists Tried To Resist The Tug Of Money And When Many Gave In No Writer Negotiated As Many Worlds No Serious Writer Had As Many Glamorous Lovers Sontag Tells These Stories And Examines The Work Upon Which Her Reputation Was Based It Explores The Agonizing Insecurity Behind The Formidable Public Face The Broken Relationships, The Struggles With Her Sexuality, That Animated And Undermined Her Writing And It Shows Her Attempts To Respond To The Cruelties And Absurdities Of A Country That Had Lost Its Way, And Her Conviction That Fidelity To High Culture Was An Activism Of Its Own Utilizing Hundreds Of Interviews Conducted From Maui To Stockholm And From London To Sarajevo And Featuring Nearly One Hundred Images Sontag Is The First Book Based On The Writer S Restricted Archives, And On Access To Many People Who Have Never Before Spoken About Sontag, Including Annie Leibovitz It Is A Definitive Portrait A Great American Novel In The Form Of A Biography


10 thoughts on “Sontag: Her Life and Work

  1. says:

    Exhaustive in detail, Sontag meticulously charts the life and career of the famous essayist Across four wide ranging parts Moser considers how Sontag transformed from a would be academic with modest origins into an internationally recognized icon of Manhattanite sophistication Everything fans of the writer would want to know is here, from facts about her traumatic upbringing and her coming of age to information about the composition of her major books and her political activism But the analys Exhaustive in detail, Sontag meticulously charts the life and career of the famous essayist Across four wide ranging parts Moser considers how Sontag transformed from a would be academic with modest origins into an internationally recognized icon of Manhattanite sophistication Everything fans of the writer would want to know is here, from facts about her traumatic upbringing and her coming of age to information about the composition of her major books and her political activism But the analysis is shallow Rather reductively Moser examines all of Sontag s life through the lens of her fraught relationship with her alcoholic mother he ignores or chastises as immature her most radical writings and intriguing stances and he pays scant attention to historical context and the tradition the writer worked within, instead myopically focusing on the drama of her personal relationships


  2. says:

    I just do not know where to start in describing Sontag Her Life and Work by Benjamin Moser It is very well researched As the title indicates, it covers both her life and her works Her relationships with her mother, her sister, her one time husband, her son, her male and female lovers are all explored It took me a while to be drawn in She was both an aesthete and a highbrow intellectual This put me off at the start I like straight talk Initially, I found her way of speaking too highfalut I just do not know where to start in describing Sontag Her Life and Work by Benjamin Moser It is very well researched As the title indicates, it covers both her life and her works Her relationships with her mother, her sister, her one time husband, her son, her male and female lovers are all explored It took me a while to be drawn in She was both an aesthete and a highbrow intellectual This put me off at the start I like straight talk Initially, I found her way of speaking too highfalutin, too pretentious Peu peu, I began to comprehend her way of being I got beyond her manner of expressing herself I began to understand the questions she was asking and what she was searching for The author gives you her words from her journals and the words of both her friends and enemies I began to see how she was thinking At the beginning I was put off, by the end I was thoroughly drawn in Both Sontag s positive as well as negative attributes are laid bare I came to care for her This does not mean I like her Does this seem strange Well, she is complicated, and the book shows this amazingly well The thoughts that twirled through her head are fascinating, once I got beneath the esoteric, to what she was driving at The issues she focused upon were important and are still relevant today She changed over time in other ways she didn t change at all I can tell you I love how she searched for the truth At the same time, she frequently lied No matter what I say, I can say the opposite too She is shown to be weak and strong and so very human Sontag was a fascinating person You don t have to like a person to find them fascinating You don t have to like a person to appreciate the things they have done Admitting she was lesbian was an anathema for her Sexuality is tied to her whole way of being Coming out of the closet isn t an action it is a process.Think about these lines All that we have is our opinion Never give that away Man is seen Women are looked at Happiness is a trivial subject There is a difference between being and pretending to be.between being and playing a role Everyone was great friends, and no one knew anybody The following amused me Susan remarks that she adores receiving guests but detests visiting others she adores giving advice but detests being given advice from others Aren t you smiling Are you the same The list can be extended it is never ending Reading about her battles against cancer are excruciating Her engagement in Vietnam and Sarajevo are worthy of the highest praise Her cruelty to friends will make you cringe A second later, she puts herself out on the line and helps a friend She was a woman of contradictions Read the book Don t be too hasty in judging it Give it time The audiobook is narrated by Tavia Gilbert She is just not one of my favorite narrators Her tone of voice irritates me She wants to pull listeners over the coals She pushes listeners to feel emotional I feel manipulated when I listen to her, but the further I got the less attention I paid to the narration I had become too involved in Sontag s life story to even bother about the narration Gilbert is easy to follow, and her French pronunciation is passable Three stars for the narration Sontag Her Life and Work by Benjamin Moser 4 stars The Volcano Lover A Romance DNF


  3. says:

    Sontag Her Life and Work 2019 written by Benjamin Moser, totally captures the complexities of this dark literary lady and cultural icon Born Susan Rosenblatt 1933 2004 to Lithuanian Jewish parents, Susan and her only son David Rieff would unapologetically change their given family name to Sontag It was impossible to contain Sontag s genius, intellect and persona by the conventions of ordinary life.The mother daughter dynamic shaped Sontag s character in numerous obvious and subtle ways S Sontag Her Life and Work 2019 written by Benjamin Moser, totally captures the complexities of this dark literary lady and cultural icon Born Susan Rosenblatt 1933 2004 to Lithuanian Jewish parents, Susan and her only son David Rieff would unapologetically change their given family name to Sontag It was impossible to contain Sontag s genius, intellect and persona by the conventions of ordinary life.The mother daughter dynamic shaped Sontag s character in numerous obvious and subtle ways Sontag adored her beautiful moody, temperamental mother Mildred For reasons unknown, Mildred declined to share the details of Sontag s father s death with her daughters for several months and seemed to want his memory erased from the family history Moser suggested reasons for this were linked to Mildred s probable alcoholism and substance use, though this was never a topic for polite discussion during the time Mildred confessed that although she found her grandson David quite charming as a toddler, she still didn t like children.While still in high school, before her admission to Berkley and the University of Chicago, Susan interviewed the notable novelist poet Thomas Mann several times Sontag was highly respected in college for her intellect and was popular with professors and students alike Sontag studied and wrote about Freud extensively Moser described various parts of Sontag s compartmentalized selfhood the private self, the social self, and the self of metaphor and mask that was carefully watched and observed closely but at a distance Through the 1970 s many mental health professionals and academics believed homosexuality could be changed at will Sontag had affairs with both men and women, and usually declined to share intimate details of her personal life with significant others, Judith was shocked to learn her sister had female lovers many years after the fact.When Sontag was 17, she married 28 year old sociology instructor Philip Rieff m.1950 59 Mildred typically had little to say about her new son in law The newlywed s celebrated by going out for burgers Susan is now recognized as the editor true author of Freud The Mind of a Moralist 1959 Rieff, reluctantly added Sontag s name as the co author in later editions of the book, and never produced another book of similar quality Susan eventually insisted on the freedom that only a divorce could provide, and promptly elected to travel abroad leaving David in the care of domestic staff Rieff didn t take Sontag s departure as easily as she had hoped For a period of time he stalked her, and accused her of being an unfit mother Sontag feared she would lose custody of David After decades, and marriage to his second wife ,Rieff claimed Susan was indeed the love of his life.Sontag identified simply as a writer If she had come out of the closet, or identified as a feminist she would have gained legions of support from the gay community and additional popular women s organizations and forums Moser observed that Sontag wouldn t have been as renowned and her work would have had less of an impact on all social and cultural levels had she publically identified as a lesbian or feminist author and noted the example of the author poet Adrienne Rich 1929 2012 to support his point of view By 1964, when Sontag taught at Colombia, the numbers of Jewish students admitted to prestigious colleges and universities soared to 65% when discriminatory practices against them ended While Sontag was from sunny California, most of her friends, colleagues, and other associates were from New York these Jewish intellectuals invented the genre of Literary Criticism Sontag s loyal friend Roger Strauss founder of FSG Publishing printed all of her books Strauss and Sontag helped launch the careers of many new writers through generous support and mentorship.In the declining years of her life, Sontag was surprisingly cognizant and energetic, sitting up in her hospital bed reading the paper and having the final word about her care Sontag s long term partner, the iconic celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz flew her to Seattle for treatment at the Fred Hutchinson s Cancer Care Center Moser didn t seem to uncover many new details other than what is already on record of their relationship, nor is it surprising that Leibovitz would chose to document her relationship with Sontag and consequently Sontag s drastic decline from cancer in her pictorial volume A Photographers Life 1990 2005 2006 The photographs are stunning, though many critics have deemed some the photographs of Sontag in poor taste Whether Sontag was writing about Vietnam during her stay in Hanoi in the 1960 s, or war torn Sarajevo in the 1990 s, or 9 11, she was always one step ahead of her time, and Sontag s life and times are covered exceptionally well in the 832 pages of this book With thanks and appreciation to HarperCollins for the DDC for the purpose of review


  4. says:

    I found it a little bit odd that some reviewers of the ARC of this book complained that they did not want to waste 700 pages reading about such a difficult person I tend to think of gushing hagiographies of historical figures as being almost as creepy as biographies of high profile villains like Hitler or Napoleon It s far better to read in detail about challenging personalities, warts and all and Sontag certainly had her share of warts.Some may wonder in the opening pages if Benjamin Moser I found it a little bit odd that some reviewers of the ARC of this book complained that they did not want to waste 700 pages reading about such a difficult person I tend to think of gushing hagiographies of historical figures as being almost as creepy as biographies of high profile villains like Hitler or Napoleon It s far better to read in detail about challenging personalities, warts and all and Sontag certainly had her share of warts.Some may wonder in the opening pages if Benjamin Moser was the right person to pull this off, since he tends to analyze deep motivations in almost a post Freudian sense, and offer the results as a true picture Certainly, one could challenge his certainty if not his conclusions at times, but the reason this ends up working is because Moser s conclusions ring true The book exceeds 700 pages because Moser wants to give us a flavor of all the decades, from the 1940s to the early 2000s, when Sontag influenced late 20th century politics, culture, and intellectual life And love her or hate her, she certainly did play a leading role in defining those worlds Moser is not afraid to say that many of her novels, plays, and film experiments were only partially successful, but he concludes by showing that Sontag mattered in ways we may not fully understand for decades to come.Moser digs deeper than the simplest explanation to show why Sontag was often unhappy or willing to lash out at friends The most common view is that Sontag was never comfortable with the idea of coming out as a lesbian, and to the end of her life resisted addressing any aspect of her gender identity Moser shows that there was a good deal of truth in this, but it was also related to Sontag s uncomfortable relationship with her own body She was not grounded in her body, she did not take care of her health, but in her three bouts with cancer, she seemed willing to abuse her body horribly merely to make sure her mind could go on Moser also takes the leap to say that the underlying challenge in both queer politics and body familiarity was that Sontag was the child of an alcoholic Certainly her mother s odd and detached manner, and Sontag s bitter relationship with her mom, was reflected later in Sontag s own strange relationship with her son, David Rieff Though Sontag herself never showed aspects of a substance abusive personality, the damages wrought by even a single generation of parent with alcohol or drug addiction can live on in many succeeding generations.The juicy newsbyte that many publicists seem to focus on in this book is the revelation that Sontag essentially wrote the entirety of her ex husband Philip Rieff s 1950s book, Freud, The Mind of the Moralist I find this scarcely surprising and largely irrelevant, because it was all so long ago and because Freud matters so little these days It certainly shows the degree of male dominance in academia in the 1950s, and later descriptions of the divorce underscore what a terribly creepy person Philip Rieff was, but this story is a very minor sidelight in the book.Moser hints at an aspect of philosophy and public intellectual life that I fleshed out a little in my own mind, though Moser himself was not this explicit He showed that Sontag got a classic 1940s intellectual education at the University of Chicago, heavily influenced by Greek and Roman authors, Marx, Freud, and many 18th century philosophers As a result, she believed in disembodied mental images and philosophy She never subscribed at all to the post modernist realm in which Theory in academia became paramount to lives actually lived I say, good for her for that Her legacy will live on long after the likes of Derrida and Foucault are forgotten.It is often said that Sontag and her contemporaries were the last generation of public intellectuals, and there are no comparative figures today Some would respond by saying that the philosophers of the 21st century are in fields such as cognitive neuroscience and comparative microbiology I will go so far as to guess that if Sontag had encountered thinkers like Daniel Dennett and George Lakoff earlier in her career a physical impossibility, unless she had been born later , she would have eagerly followed the neuroscience philosophers and would have beenat peace with her body and her sexuality as a result To cite but one example, in Lakoff s work Philosophy in the Flesh, he cites the key role of metaphor as being central to the hidden layer of the neural network, one that makes philosophy and abstraction possible Moser makes metaphor central to his entire biography of Sontag Lakoff concludes his book by tossing out a good deal of Plato, Descartes, Kant, Marx, Freud, and others, saying any philosophy that assumes the existence of a disembodied intelligence, and that does not center itself on emergent intelligence arising from the human body, is next to worthless If Sontag and many of her contemporary philosophers had tossed out 3 4 of the classical education offered at University of Chicago, Berkeley, and most Ivy League schools in the 1940s and 1950s, she might have been a much happier genius But of course, then we would not have seen the 1960s trajectory of the public intellectual that we saw in Sontag.Sontag often is cited as a New Left public intellectual, but Moser said it iscomplex than that Sontag always wasinterested in meaning, metaphor, and representation than in ideology When she seemed to mouth platitudes in Havana or Hanoi, it was often because she was not paying attention to realities on the ground another factor of being uncomfortable with her own being in the world , rather than because she believed in any centralized socialist ideologies In talking about the evolution of New York public intellectual life in the 1950s through 1970s, Moser shows what an inbred and cloistered group these writers were It wasn t just that people put up with sexist jackasses like Norman Mailer far longer than they should have It was that the editors of The New York Review of Books considered themselves farinfluential than they really were Moser brings up the case of the shunning of the radical poet Adrienne Rich Who the hell cares what these people thought It reminded me of the number of young novelists in the 1980s who centered their stories on lives and loves among Manhattan and Brooklyn literati Who the hell cares The artificial cultural island of New York quite simply didn t matter, and Sontag was right to stop paying attention to her compatriots in many such matters.The problem was, she never did so with kindness or consistency, a result of having no Buddhist or self love principles to fall back on Sontag would regularly shun, betray or trash talk both close friends and lovers, because she had no effective way of stating her independence without bad mouthing those she loved A classic case came in the post Yugoslavia wars largely initiated by the Serbs When Sontag made long stays in Sarajevo during the siege of that city, she rightly berated U.S and Western European intellectuals for their silence on Bosnia, and their apparent willingness to give Slobodan Milosevic a free pass But there is a wrong and right way to berate One can snidely call a close ally a useful idiot yet still find a way to talk to them tomorrow, but Sontag seemed to be an expert at permanently burning bridges Sure it showed her as an independent thinker, but it did not show her as a kind person.Her late life relationships, particularly her odd deep love with photographer Annie Leibovitz, were particularly abusive in this regard, and once again, it all boiled down to a fear of death and a fear of the body Unfortunately, some of these behaviors rubbed off on her son David Rieff, who seemed to growsullen and uncaring with others as he entered middle age It ended up making her twin memorial services following her death a mockery, an indication of all that had been broken in her way of seeing herself and others.Moser s epilogue, aptly titled The Body and Its Metaphors, concludes on a positive note by pointing out that she offered volumes of useful observations on the relationship between language and reality, as well as the relation between image and reality In her book On Photography, she explored what McLuhan had hinted at, at how immediate visual access to information and later the impact of a always on Internet changed our perception of reality But in the new era of deepfakes, we can no longer trust photographic or video evidence We may no longer be able to trust reality itself Where would Sontag have gone in exploring linguistic concepts of reality with the likes of Chomsky or Lakoff Moser points out that it s useless to ask how Sontag would have confronted problems arising later in the 21st century it s enough to know that she would have been the first to ask the right questions Still, it would have been interesting to see if a familiarity with the body might have made her a fundamentally happier person


  5. says:

    4.5 A fascinating subject well served by a highly readable overview One slight problem you can t help but sense Moser picked Sontag not merely for her obvious status as intriguing cultural icon influencer and essayist, but at least partly so he could write a sumptuous takedown Too often this reader felt credit was conferred just prior to another withering knock Sontag, as Moser has it, was generous only to people with whom she was casually intimate those close to her Annie Leibovitz he 4.5 A fascinating subject well served by a highly readable overview One slight problem you can t help but sense Moser picked Sontag not merely for her obvious status as intriguing cultural icon influencer and essayist, but at least partly so he could write a sumptuous takedown Too often this reader felt credit was conferred just prior to another withering knock Sontag, as Moser has it, was generous only to people with whom she was casually intimate those close to her Annie Leibovitz her son David who she casually ditched throughout his childhood bore the brunt of what was either a failure to empathise or straight out nastiness There is a little too much indulgence of this strain to render Sontag talented and even indispensable yet ultimately a failed person An obsession with the idea that Sontag projected who she was onto counterparts and subjects of criticism Indignation that she stayed in the closet during the early days of AIDS when coming out may have helped destigmatise the illness farthan an essay derided for not going far enough There is ultimately a little too shrill a repetition of the biographer s distaste, as opposed to clear eyed assessment And Moser, it has to be mentioned, is subject to many of the criticisms he here levels at Sontag, which may well inadvertently reveal some of his motivation Yet Moser writes well and you ll come away if dampened by appreciation of her shortcomings in no doubt as to Sontag s achievement and legacy as a fearless and mould breaking intellect She was unconventional, tricky, her behaviour often impossible to understand She treated people badly But she was a massively important trailblazer who championed and supported countless writers, brought hundreds of authors to the attention of a grateful readership, wrote epochal works that still resound, furthered the cause of casually stifled Saul Bellow stopped her getting a Macarthur fellowship she wasn t the only woman he blackballed for reasons that needn t be speculated women intellectuals to an enormous degree There is ultimately just a little too much emphasis on her failings, and often too begrudging a testimony as to her achievements You may end up spending wasteful time wondering about Moser s agenda as opposed to delighting in his fascinating, unique, contradictory subject and that s a shame


  6. says:

    Sontag Her Life and Work 2019 written by Benjamin Moser, totally captures the complexities of this dark literary lady and cultural icon Born Susan Rosenblatt 1933 2004 to Lithuanian Jewish parents, Susan and her only son David Rieff would unapologetically change their given family name to Sontag It was impossible to contain Sontag s genius, intellect and persona by the conventions of ordinary life.The mother daughter dynamic shaped Sontag s character in numerous obvious and subtle ways S Sontag Her Life and Work 2019 written by Benjamin Moser, totally captures the complexities of this dark literary lady and cultural icon Born Susan Rosenblatt 1933 2004 to Lithuanian Jewish parents, Susan and her only son David Rieff would unapologetically change their given family name to Sontag It was impossible to contain Sontag s genius, intellect and persona by the conventions of ordinary life.The mother daughter dynamic shaped Sontag s character in numerous obvious and subtle ways Sontag adored her beautiful moody, temperamental mother Mildred For reasons unknown, Mildred declined to share the details of Sontag s father s death with her daughters for several months and seemed to want his memory erased from the family history Moser suggested reasons for this were linked to Mildred s probable alcoholism and substance use, though this was never a topic for polite discussion during the time Mildred confessed that although she found her grandson David quite charming as a toddler, she still didn t like children.While still in high school, before her admission to Berkley and the University of Chicago, Susan interviewed the notable novelist poet Thomas Mann several times Sontag was highly respected in college for her intellect and was popular with professors and students alike Sontag studied and wrote about Freud extensively Moser described various parts of Sontag s compartmentalized selfhood the private self, the social self, and the self of metaphor and mask that was carefully watched and observed closely but at a distance Through the 1970 s many mental health professionals and academics believed homosexuality could be changed at will Sontag had affairs with both men and women, and usually declined to share intimate details of her personal life with significant others, Judith was shocked to learn her sister had female lovers many years after the fact.When Sontag was 17, she married 28 year old sociology instructor Philip Rieff m.1950 59 Mildred typically had little to say about her new son in law The newlywed s celebrated by going out for burgers Susan is now recognized as the editor true author of Freud The Mind of a Moralist 1959 Rieff, reluctantly added Sontag s name as the co author in later editions of the book, and never produced another book of similar quality Susan eventually insisted on the freedom that only a divorce could provide, and promptly elected to travel abroad leaving David in the care of domestic staff Rieff didn t take Sontag s departure as easily as she had hoped For a period of time he stalked her, and accused her of being an unfit mother Sontag feared she would lose custody of David After decades, and marriage to his second wife ,Rieff claimed Susan was indeed the love of his life.Sontag identified simply as a writer If she had come out of the closet, or identified as a feminist she would have gained legions of support from the gay community and additional popular women s organizations and forums Moser observed that Sontag wouldn t have been as renowned and her work would have had less of an impact on all social and cultural levels had she publically identified as a lesbian or feminist author and noted the example of the author poet Adrienne Rich 1929 2012 to support his point of view By 1964, when Sontag taught at Colombia, the numbers of Jewish students admitted to prestigious colleges and universities soared to 65% when discriminatory practices against them ended While Sontag was from sunny California, most of her friends, colleagues, and other associates were from New York these Jewish intellectuals invented the genre of Literary Criticism Sontag s loyal friend Roger Strauss founder of FSG Publishing printed all of her books Strauss and Sontag helped launch the careers of many new writers through generous support and mentorship.In the declining years of her life, Sontag was surprisingly cognizant and energetic, sitting up in her hospital bed reading the paper and having the final word about her care Sontag s long term partner, the iconic celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz flew her to Seattle for treatment at the Fred Hutchinson s Cancer Care Center Moser didn t seem to uncover many new details other than what is already on record of their relationship, nor is it surprising that Leibovitz would chose to document her relationship with Sontag and consequently Sontag s drastic decline from cancer in her pictorial volume A Photographers Life 1990 2005 2006 The photographs are stunning, though many critics have deemed some the photographs of Sontag in poor taste Whether Sontag was writing about Vietnam during her stay in Hanoi in the 1960 s, or war torn Sarajevo in the 1990 s, or 9 11, she was always one step ahead of her time, and Sontag s life and times are covered exceptionally well in the 832 pages of this book With thanks and appreciation to HarperCollins for the DDC for the purpose of review


  7. says:

    Susan was, beyond all else, an example She was an avatar of erudition and high purpose that we didn t have in American letters in the twentieth century The closest comparable know it all is Harold Bloom, but he s a traditionalist Susan was interested in the bleeding edge of culture, the difficult stuff that demanded the most of us Why did she never write on Straub Huillet She must have known that work Moser, who seems to be part of this fellowship, diagnoses Susan as an Adult Child of Alc Susan was, beyond all else, an example She was an avatar of erudition and high purpose that we didn t have in American letters in the twentieth century The closest comparable know it all is Harold Bloom, but he s a traditionalist Susan was interested in the bleeding edge of culture, the difficult stuff that demanded the most of us Why did she never write on Straub Huillet She must have known that work Moser, who seems to be part of this fellowship, diagnoses Susan as an Adult Child of Alcoholics He also makes a lot of hay out of Susan s not wanting to come out which in 2019 makes a little sense in that she didn t wanted to be affixed with an ID card from Team Lesbian I suspect our current identity politics would have nauseated her There are some specious claims within such as her having balled Bobby Kennedy and Warren Beatty, both of which I find REALLY hard to believe A tale of Warren s calling Susan day and night is just pure silliness And there is a lot of evidence of Sudan the bad parent, though she clearly loved her kid One particularly shocking moment features her taking off on a vacation abroad with a girlfriend at the moment her son goes into the hospital for cancer surgery What do we learn about this protean genius, this woman of infinite appetites She didn t like to bathe, she ate gross food, and she was so mean to people that by the 90smaybe even the 80sshe had driven everyone away I must say I came away from Moser s wonderfully written, sober, practical and engaging biography withif not , as much love for Susan as ever She was the person I wanted to be as a child the urban sophisticate who is the ultimate Cocteau like hyphenate and is right at the epicenter of the culture in every imaginable arena We live, to be sure, in a post Sontagian culture But does she not give us, in this haplessly fallen world, something to aspire toward


  8. says:

    Well this was fantastic but also too long I guess you are supposed to say she was a complex person blah blah Who isn t My main thought while reading it what a nasty woman I pity her and also I would have never wanted to be in one room with her She is so obnoxious Her fear to be alone, to be authentic, to be happy She was such a manipulative mother judgmental, hostile and elitist with a superiority complex with others and this whole time so insecure in her private diaries Such a sad an Well this was fantastic but also too long I guess you are supposed to say she was a complex person blah blah Who isn t My main thought while reading it what a nasty woman I pity her and also I would have never wanted to be in one room with her She is so obnoxious Her fear to be alone, to be authentic, to be happy She was such a manipulative mother judgmental, hostile and elitist with a superiority complex with others and this whole time so insecure in her private diaries Such a sad and confused woman She supported Salman Rushdie and soviet poets fleeing their countries which I respect The same Salman later called her a bullying monsterSontag s determination to create an unreliable narrator is so reliable that it becomes tedious there is, after all, nothing here we relied on to begin with


  9. says:

    10 30 this biography has inspired me to revisit some of the essays in Where the Stress Falls dismaying There comes a time to put away childish things This is kitsch Culture as kitschy Europhilia, that s what Sontag really stood for in the end Long past time to read Pierre Bourdieu.From Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo, the ultimate I m not racist but statement in highbrow drag Even quite well informed people in the United States and in Europe seem genuinely surprised when I mention t 10 30 this biography has inspired me to revisit some of the essays in Where the Stress Falls dismaying There comes a time to put away childish things This is kitsch Culture as kitschy Europhilia, that s what Sontag really stood for in the end Long past time to read Pierre Bourdieu.From Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo, the ultimate I m not racist but statement in highbrow drag Even quite well informed people in the United States and in Europe seem genuinely surprised when I mention that, until the siege began, a middle class Sarajevan was farlikely to go to Vienna to the opera than to go down the street to a mosque I make this point not to suggest that the lives of non religious urban Europeans are intrinsicallyvaluable than the lives of the devout of Tehran or Baghdad or Damascus She defends the dignity of Muslim lives in Bosnia by suggesting they re not actually Muslims because, uh, they like opera If you can read the above without cringing, you need to spendtime in sports bars or maybe a mosque just a few days ago I felt somewhat differentlyI believe I ve read every Sontag book published in her life, plus the two volumes of journals that came out posthumously But of course the real point of reading Susan Sontag wasn t reading her own books so much as reading all the books she recommends written by other people not to mention seeing all those movies she lists I owe a huge part of my reading life and general cultural education to Susan Sontag I m sure a lot of people on this site would say the same thing She s still the patron saint of self serious I refuse to say pretentious autodidacts Years before this biography, Sontag had already been demystified by the revelations of her journals as well as a string of extremely unflattering, sometimes hilarious memoirs by people who knew her Personally I like to think I grew out of my Sontag phase long ago, and yet there is something permanently beguiling about her, or at least the idea of her.I was hoping Benjamin Moser s biography would let me decide once and for all what I think of her Well, it s an excellent book, but it didn t do that It seems undeniable Sontag could be a deeply loathsome person, but still there was something in that pose that wasn t just a pose A seriousness worth taking seriously


  10. says:

    The year is 2008 I am 18 or 19, but just beginning to emerge from the borderline codependent relationship that had been my homeschooling experience, I think mentally I was probably closer to 14 or 15.As sometimes happens in the age of the internet, I found myself on a forum with a fairly diverse group of people, most of them older and smarter than me And as also sometimes happens, they graciously engaged with my clumsy attempts to make jokes and parrot any opinion I had heard that I got a chan The year is 2008 I am 18 or 19, but just beginning to emerge from the borderline codependent relationship that had been my homeschooling experience, I think mentally I was probably closer to 14 or 15.As sometimes happens in the age of the internet, I found myself on a forum with a fairly diverse group of people, most of them older and smarter than me And as also sometimes happens, they graciously engaged with my clumsy attempts to make jokes and parrot any opinion I had heard that I got a chance to shoehorn in to the conversation I think we were discussing a classic British novel, either Dickens or Austen, and I made a joke about how if a character spent a night out of doors in such a novel, then poof, they were probably doomed I d heard my mother make the same joke and I wanted to make an impression.In the discussion that followed, real world conditions of the time period were brought up, butthan that, one particular poster pointed out that often the sickness that a character died from was a narrative device They suggested I read Illness as Metaphor if I was interested in exploring the idea further I don t remember if I had to do an Interlobrary Loan or if our local system actually had a copy, I just remember the satisfying brown of the cloth cover, the faded gold leaf of the title, and the reassuring slimness of the oddly shaped volume It s funny what details stand out I had no real concept of the author as a person which I think now after reading the biography she might find amusing , and the name became disembodied and genderless in my mind, simply a shorthand for a doorway into a world where ideas could be dissected and remade for endless hours Sontag I never read another word by Susan Sontag, whether through distraction or lack of access, but reading the one book was perhaps life changing enough for me at the time A many lettered explanation, or maybe a justification, for why I requested an arc of this biography But I m so glad I did That amorphous, breathlessly impressionistic image of Sontag conjured up the kind of mystic free thinker and academic that I ve always secretly wished I could be, and it s comforting in a strange way to find what an enormous, whole mess tm of a personality she was.This biography was excellent, flipping the lens from Sontag to the people and events around her with effortless transitions and well rounded explanations And this is from someone who usually finds biography one of the least compelling forms of nonfiction.Definitely recommended for scholars of the late 20th century and fans of biography as a genre


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