Sontag's incisive intelligence, expressive brilliance, and deep curiosity about art, politics, and the writer's responsibility to bear witness have secured her place as one of the most important thinkers and writers of the twentieth century.
At the Same Time gathers sixteen essays and speeches written in the last years of Sontag's life, when her work was being honored on the international stage. She writes of the freedom of literature, about courage and resistance, and fearlessly addresses the dilemmas of post-9/11 America, from the degradation of our political rhetoric to the appalling torture of prisoners in Abu Ghraib.
David Rieff describes his mother's passion in his foreword: "She wanted to experience everything, taste everything, go everywhere, do everything. Indeed, if I had only one word with which to evoke her, it would be avidity. . . . I think that, for her, the joy of living and the joy of knowing really were one and the same."
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Susan Sontag immediately became a major figure of our culture with the publication in 1966 of the pathbreaking collection of essays Against Interpretation. She went on to write four novels, including In America (2000), which won the National Book Award for Fiction, as well as a collection of stories, several plays, and seven subsequent works of nonfiction, among them On Photography (1977), Illness as Metaphor (1978), and Regarding the Pain of Others (2003). Her many international honors included the Jerusalem Prize (2001) and the Friedenspreis (Peace Prize) of the German Book Trade (2003). She died in New York City on December 28, 2004.From Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. Literature and politics are inextricably intertwined and unified by moral purpose in this powerful collection of pieces (a couple not previously published in English or at all) by iconic critic and novelist Sontag (Regarding the Pain of Others), who died in 2004. Sontag was a dedicated champion of literature in translation, and the book opens with several introductions to such works, led off by a meditation on beauty. The section might have been called "Art and Ardor," so laced is it with artistic passion, both Sontag's own and that of the writers she celebrates, such as Leonid Tsypkin and Anna Banti. Part three contains speeches Sontag gave in accepting the Jerusalem Prize and other awards, and honoring others whose moral courage she admired. But most striking is to re-read the pieces she wrote in the wake of 9/11 and the Abu Ghraib scandal, which constitute the book's middle section. Sontag's controversial attack on the Bush administration immediately after 9/11 may have been an act of courage or of folly, but from a distance of five years, her critique seems on the mark. Sontag's brilliance as a literary critic, her keen analytical skill and her genius for the searingly apt phrase (like her damning "the photographs are us" in relation to the Abu Ghraib photos) are all fiercely displayed here. (Mar. 6)
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