Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Remembering Susan Sontag

I just found out that the public intellectual and social critic Susan Sontag has died at the age of 71.

Susan Sontag, Social Critic With Verve, Dies at 71


"The theme that runs through Susan's writing is this lifelong struggle to arrive at the proper balance between the moral and the aesthetic," Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic and an old friend of Ms. Sontag's, said in a telephone interview yesterday. "There was something unusually vivid about her writing. That's why even if one disagrees with it - as I did frequently - it was unusually stimulating. She showed you things you hadn't seen before; she had a way of reopening questions."

Through four decades, public response to Ms. Sontag remained irreconcilably divided. She was described, variously, as explosive, anticlimactic, original, derivative, naïve, sophisticated, approachable, aloof, condescending, populist, puritanical, sybaritic, sincere, posturing, ascetic, voluptuary, right-wing, left-wing, profound, superficial, ardent, bloodless, dogmatic, ambivalent, lucid, inscrutable, visceral, reasoned, chilly, effusive, relevant, passé, ambivalent, tenacious, ecstatic, melancholic, humorous, humorless, deadpan, rhapsodic, cantankerous and clever. No one ever called her dull.

Ms. Sontag's best-known books, all published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, include the novels "Death Kit" (1967), "The Volcano Lover" (1992) and "In America" (2000); the essay collections "Against Interpretation" (1966), "Styles of Radical Will" (1969) and "Under the Sign of Saturn" (1980); the critical studies "On Photography" (1977) and "AIDS and Its Metaphors" (1989); and the short-story collection "I, Etcetera" (1978). One of her most famous works, however, was not a book, but an essay, "Notes on Camp," published in 1964 and still widely read.

More on Susan Sontag:

A Rigorous Intellectual Dressed in Glamour

Thinking Woman: Susan Sontag Was An Irresistible Force Among Intellectuals

Books and Writers: Biographical Sketch

On Photography

Regarding the Torture of Others

PBS: Video and Conversation With Sontag

Reviews/Essays Published in the New York Review of Books

The WTC Attacks

1992 Don Swaim Interview with Sontag

BBC Audio Interviews

BOOK TV: In Depth 3 Hour Interview

Interview with Bill Moyers

The Novelist and Moral Reasoning

Literature is Freedom

Of Courage and Resistance

Fascinating Fascism

So Whose Words Were They

Notes on Camp

Sontag Discussing and Reading From Her Books Regarding the Pain of Others and In America

Christopher Hichen: Remembering an Intellectual Heroine

No comments: