Friday, August 18, 2006

On Sontag: Essayist as Metaphor and Muse

By HOLLAND COTTER @ New York Times

HOW to honor the memory of a multifarious figure like Susan Sontag? The Metropolitan Museum’s solution — a small, grave, beautiful photography show — is an apt one, though some people will grumble that Sontag had tributes enough in her time, and doesn’t need, or deserve, any more.

The same people were saying not-nice things about this writer long before her death in 2004 at 71, about how she was a prima donna and a holier-than-thou moral scold, a limousine liberal turned cultural conservative; a snob; an opportunist; a serial self-contradicter.

I read her first collection of essays, “Against Interpretation,” the year it came out, in 1966, when I was in high school in rural New England. For me it was like an alarm clock that wouldn’t shut off. I was familiar with only a few of the subjects she was writing about. But I instantly wanted to know everything about all of them, and about everything else she was interested in.


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