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Thursday, 16 January 2014

Susan Sontag, Author and Commentator

b. January 16, 1933
d. December 28, 2004
To me, literature is a calling, even a kind of salvation. It connects me with an enterprise that is over 2,000 years old.

Susan Sontag spent her childhood in Tucson, Arizona and Los Angeles, California. A precocious child who excelled in academics, Sontag graduated from high school at age 15. She earned her bachelor's degree at the University of Chicago. Sontag pursued graduate work in literature, philosophy and theology at Harvard University and Saint Anne's College, Oxford.
In 1950, at age 17, Sontag married Philip Rieff, a professor of sociology theory. Two years later, Sontag gave birth to her only child, David Reiff. After her divorce nine years later, Sontag never remarried.
Sontag began her writing career at age 30 with "The Benefactor" (1963). Literary critics consider her critically acclaimed short story "The Way We Live Now" (1986) a monumental work of literature on the subject of AIDS. It was selected for inclusion in John Updike's "The Best American Short Stories of the Century" (1999).
In addition to writing six works of fiction, including her best selling novel "The Volcano Lover" (1992), Sontag produced her most celebrated work as an essayist. The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, The Nation and the London Review of Books have published her provocative essays.
Sontag kept her sexuality mostly private. In an interview with Out Magazine, she discussed her reluctance to live an openly gay life: "Maybe I could have given comfort to some people if I had dealt with the subject of my private sexuality more, but it's never been my prime mission to give comfort, unless somebody's in drastic need. I'd rather give pleasure, or shake things up." Sontag had several committed relationships with women, including her decade long relationship with photographer Annie Leibovitz.
On December 28, 2004, Sontag lost her battle with cancer. Her Village Voice obituary read: "She was the indispensable voice of moral responsibility, perceptual clarity, passionate (and passionately reasonable) advocacy: for aesthetic pleasure, for social justice, for unembarrassed hedonism, for life against death."
Paddock, Lisa and Carl Rollyson. Susan Sontag: The Making of an Icon. W. W. Norton & Company, 2000
“Susan Sontag.” July 3, 2007
Selected Works
A Susan Sontag Reader (1982)
Against Interpretation and Other Essays (1968)
Alice in Bed (1993)
At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches (2007)
Brother Carl (1974)
Cage-Cunningham-Johns: Dancers on a Plane (1990)
Conversations with Susan Sontag (1995)
Death Kit (1967)
Duet for Cannibals (1970)
I, Etcetera (1977)
Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors (1988)
In America (1999)
On Photography (1976)
Regarding the Pain of Others (2003)
Styles of Radical Will (1969)
The Benefactor (1963)
The Story of the Eye (1979)
The Volcano Lover (1992)
The Way We Live Now (1991)
Trip to Hanoi (1969)
Under the Sign of Saturn (1980)
Where the Stress Falls (2001)

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