Download Notes on Sontag (Writers on Writers) by Phillip Lopate PDF

By Phillip Lopate

Notes on Sontag is a frank, witty, and interesting mirrored image at the paintings, effect, and character of 1 of the "foremost interpreters of . . . our fresh modern moment." Adopting Sontag's favourite shape, a suite of short essays or notes that circle round a subject matter from various views, well known essayist Phillip Lopate considers the achievements and obstacles of his tantalizing, daunting topic via what's essentially a talk among writers. Reactions to Sontag are typically polarized, yet Lopate's account of Sontag's importance to him and to the tradition over which she loomed is neither hagiography nor hatchet activity. regardless of admiring and being encouraged by means of her essays, he admits a power ambivalence approximately Sontag. Lopate additionally describes the determine she lower in individual via a chain of wry own anecdotes of his encounters along with her through the years. commencing from middle-class California to invent herself as a European-style highbrow, Sontag raised the bar of serious discourse and provided up a version of a freethinking, innovative, and sensual lady. yet whereas crediting her successes, Lopate additionally seems to be at how her style for aphorism and the novel excessive floor led her into exaggerations which could do violence to her personal good judgment, and the way her ambition to be obvious essentially as a novelist made her undervalue her fantastic essays. sincere but sympathetic, Lopate's attractive review unearths a Sontag who was once either an unique and intensely a lot somebody of her time.

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Extra info for Notes on Sontag (Writers on Writers)

Example text

I programmed obscure foreign art films I wanted to see, as well as classics of Hollywood auteur cinema, and Susan Sontag supported 40 & the series by coming regularly. I remember her bringing her barely teenage son, David, to one of the showings, Sam Fuller’s Run of the Arrow, I believe it was; he looking wispy and gamin-Parisian in his jean jacket, like Jean-Pierre Leaud in ἀ e 400 Blows. I would also run into her on the Broadway-104 bus, both of us on our way from campus to a screening at Dan Talbot’s New Yorker Theatre, then a mecca for film buffs.

The point to remember is how often the younger Sontag pulled back from excess, how cautious and qualifying and reasonable she could be, having first staked out a doctrinaire position. The “against” title she used in her essay is a time-honored strategy for marshalling polemical energy; and when the author’s contrarian opposition rears up against a seemingly ineluctable good (such as Joyce Carol Oates’s essay “Against Nature,” Laura Kipnis’s Against Love, or my own “Against Joie de Vivre”), there is an added frisson of throwing down the gauntlet to convention and common sense itself.

She was like a naughty teenager who tosses a rock at a school window to let in some fresh air, only to witness with horror the whole stately edifice crumble to the ground. Again, not that she was responsible for the triumph of pop culture over high culture—that was in the cards—but she must have felt baffled, if not a little guilty, at the collapse of high culture’s prestige. “To call for an ‘erotics of art’ did not mean to disparage the role of the critical intellect. To laud work condescended to as ‘popular’ culture did not mean to conspire in the Ag ainst Interpretation & 25 repudiation of high culture and its complexities” (WSS, 272), she wrote testily.

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