October 12, 2014

THERE'S NOTHING PROFOUND...:

Propping Up Pretensions : a review of Susan Sontag: A Biography  by Daniel Schreiber,  translated by David Dollenmayer. (CARL ROLLYSON, University Bookman)

"Susan Sontag, as F. R. Leavis said of the Sitwells, belongs less to the history of literature than to that of publicity." This salvo from Joseph Epstein would undoubtedly be termed neoconservative by Daniel Schreiber, Susan Sontag's latest biographer. Schreiber never quite explains what he means by "neoconservative" in his intellectually incoherent narrative. But it seems that virtually anyone who has qualms about treating Sontag as a major writer and the public intellectual of her time invites Schreiber to label them reactionary. In this biographer's world a neoconservative is ipso facto a bad hat. The truly odd thing, though, is that the criticisms of Sontag by so-called neoconservatives are the same postmortem criticisms her own friends supplied to Schreiber. In other words, only those inside the Sontag tent are allowed to affix their charges to the indictment because, as these accusers are quick to add, Sontag must be forgiven her transgressions. Why will become apparent anon.

Doubts about Sontag's stature fester in Schreiber's narrative like an open wound that he constantly tries to close with tributes to her influence, her magnetism, her beauty (Schreiber, like a gushing biographer of a Hollywood star, marvels at how well-preserved Sontag remained as she aged), her good deeds, her courage, her assistance to young writers, and on and on and on.


...about self-loathing.

Posted by at October 12, 2014 6:49 PM
  

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