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Der Liebhaber des Vulk...
 
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Susan Sontag
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Der Liebhaber des Vulkans : Roman

3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  1,520 Ratings  ·  146 Reviews
Based on the lives of Sir William Hamilton, his celebrated wife, Emma, and Lord Nelson, the young British admiral who was the greatest hero of the time, this novel is about revolution, nature, emotions, the condition of women, and above all, love. Sontag is the acclaimed author of AIDS and Its Metaphor.
Published (first published January 1st 1992)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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David
Jun 22, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is so close to great. . . I was reading Sontag's Paris Review interview afterward, which is fascinating, obviously--at 13, she was apparently reading the journals of Gide--and I think it opened me up to the flaw in the book, which is structural. She had in mind this balletic structure modeled on the four temperaments--melancholic, sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, although the last two are more like epilogues. First, Sontag gives us an oddly sad story about this quiet aristocrat living in ...more
Matt


I love Sontag the writer, provocateur, thinker, etc...and I love her essays and criticism. And her life. I always think twice about what she says and recommends and the attitudes she takes.

But this book didn't really live up to my expectations. I love some of it- the aphoristic insights and the subdued delineations of places and objects, especially. Her characterization can be pretty strong and sometimes the evocative feel of time and place is really there.

Unfortunately the writing is a little
...more
Wordsmith
I love this book, having first read it back in '92-'93. It's still sitting right there on my shelf, despite having been pulled off several times for a re-read. Complex? Uhmmm, not really. Big words? No bigger, certainly, than McCarthy. Ha! Not even close. No, just top of the line, grade A, "historical romance." If that. I'd call it much more myself. Susan Sontag is a writers writer. 5 Star caliber all the way.
Julia
Feb 19, 2012 Julia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps I should start with a comment by Evelyn Toynton in COMMENTARY, Nov. 1992, right after the book was published. This is just a short section of a well written critique:

"But in the end, apart from some vivid images of street scenes in Naples, of a rampaging mob, of Sir William’s pathetic pet monkey, and of Emma dancing, the strongest impression one takes away from this book is of the suffocatingly humorless presence of Susan Son-tag.

She has become by now a virtual icon of Mind, the ultimate
...more
Susan
Dec 04, 2008 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deep research on scandals and art works of aristocratic late 18th-century Naples around the time of the French Revolution made into good story/character study of English aesthete and collector William Hamilton, his two wives, and Admiral Nelson. Hamilton profited from the excavations at Pompeii, had an intimate view of the scatalogical excesses and executions perpetrated by the Neapolitan court, and participated in a few menages a trois. His second wife Emma progresses as a Barry Lyndon-type rak ...more
Johan Thilander
Sep 15, 2016 Johan Thilander rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Det känns som att Susan hände mig. Tidigare har jag bara läst hennes On Photography, och hennes essäistiska bakgrund är tydlig här.
Denna bok är väldigt, väldigt bra. Väldigt bra, alltså.
Matt
Feb 25, 2011 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This rating will no doubt seem harsh, compared to the rating I just gave another book, but I think at least in some ways, it's merited.

I really like Sontag's essays, and think she's quite a wonderful writer and thinker, and a lot of that is on display here. I was curious to see what she'd make out of a novel, and she doesn't disappoint in that regard-- this really is a strange book, one that is as interested in argument and philosophy and culture as much as it is in more traditional novelistic c
...more
Blueskies18
Apr 16, 2008 Blueskies18 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't even finish this book. Not my cup of tea. If I don't like the style and what the author has to say, I don't waste my time on it.
Suzanne Stroh
Annie Liebovitz has called this Susan Sontag's best book, and she should know, and I agree. It's a gorgeous, lyrical novel of ideas disguised as an 18th century romance about a love triangle between the British ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples, the concubine he marries and the Naval hero she worships. This book has it all: pretty girls, virile noblemen, erupting volcanoes, priceless paintings, science and seduction, sex and war crimes, houses and gardens, gallows and guillotines.

As with every
...more
Tom Lee
Feb 21, 2015 Tom Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who knew a volcano could give birth to such a wealth of conflicting symbolism? In Sontag’s gripping piece of historical fiction, it appears as a metaphor for destruction and preservation, the artistic and the scientific, the penis and the vagina – and a whole lot more.

I personally love historical fiction and The Volcano Lover is an enjoyable and thought-provoking example of the genre. It takes as its basis a very famous, real-life love affair from the Napoleonic Wars, but avoids directly naming
...more
Lisa Fluet
Nov 15, 2007 Lisa Fluet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I read this book while in Naples (it's set in Naples, late-18th-early 19th century). I think it's probably Susan Sontag's best novel. But then I don't really like her novels normally...[random trivia]--Susan Sontag's novels come up in the movie "Bull Durham" (Kevin Costner--or "Crash"--doesn't like them, either...)
Marta!
Feb 28, 2014 Marta! rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Someone who likes books without dialogues
Recommended to Marta! by: My aunt, Maritere.
"El amor es siempre un sacrificio, dijo Catherine, que sabía de qué hablaba. Pero quien ama, añadió, consigue mejor parte que quien se deja querer".

En un artículo que el diario El País publicó en 1995, Rocío García narraba cómo Susan Sontag, autora de la novela, confesaba que "éste era su mejor libro" y que "se sentía profundamente orgullosa" de él. Confesión que hizo en la presentación que tuvo lugar en el Círculo de Bellas Artes de Madrid aquél año. Juan Goytisolo, uno de los amigos que le aco
...more
Fiona
Sep 09, 2008 Fiona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The dramatic heart of this book lies in Nelson’s distinctly unheroic behaviour during the Neapolitan Republican uprising in 1799, when he oversaw the execution of hundreds of ‘rebels’, and hanged the much-loved Admiral Caracciolo and threw his body into the harbour.
The story starts, though, as Sir William Hamilton goes back to Naples from London to carry on his work as British Ambassador. His wife - the reserved, refined Catherine - plays the piano in the Neapolitan palazzo while Hamilton is ou
...more
Patty
Feb 26, 2012 Patty rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readin12
This was a hard book to get into. The challenge was gettin through the superficial lives of it's 3 main characters. It is discribed as an historical novel, but I thought the author spent way too much time with their internal struggles which were very common and disgustingly predictable. I also question whether this was a true romance novel.

When the "action" picked up which is to say when somthing actually happens the possibility for a good situaltion to learn something about this period in Histo
...more
Nicholas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tony Hightower
I wasn't able to finish this. It wasn't that she's bad at this -- her prose flows nicely, and the flourishes and characters move in three dimensions -- but man, is she in love with her own ability to string phrases and words together.

The remembrance-as-recollection plot device only works if you're crystal clear about how many layers deep into the onion of memory you've currently burrowed. That was a problem in this book, and while it might be forgivable for those who read scholarly texts and hav
...more
Antonmyles
May 23, 2010 Antonmyles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an exhilarating read more for its encyclopedic if kaleidoscopically shifting views of a passionately intelligent and acquisitive Cavaliere. It matters little that the novel is based on the real-life triangle of Sir William Hamilton, his wife Emma, and Lord Nelson. What counts is the formal yet lyrical beauty of the writing, the ever-changing impressions of a man in love with not just a woman but the world of objects and art. Almost mystical in the revelry of its cataloguing of things and ...more
JSA Lowe
Apr 15, 2014 JSA Lowe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I know I was supposed to like this, but I wish Sontag had stayed the hell away from narrative "realistic" fiction. This bored the pants onto me and I missed the weirdness of Death Kit and her other awesome freakazoid neglected work. Now I'm thinking of that stupid line from Bull Durham and I'm even more upset, so stopping writing now.
Catherine
Well I give up. I'm on page 172 and I can feel the lava hardening around my ankles as I read this book. Sontag's style is so thick she makes Iris Murdoch feel like a waltz in the park.

I was so looking forward to learning more about this unusual relationship between Hamilton, his wife and Nelson but it is almost like she's avoiding the subject (which is perhaps how Hamilton handled it).

Anyways with thousands of other books waiting on my shelves I can't get bogged down in something that so polite
...more
Isabella Diocson
I'm usually a fast reader given my own set of circumstances. This, however, is a different story considering that this was an exhausting read which took me almost 2 months to finish. Nevertheless this book was interesting, painting a vivid and poignant picture of the life of The Cavaliere as an antiquarian, diplomat, husband, and a lover of the volcano. I loved how Susan Sontag writes with depth, sucking the reader in with deep thoughts beyond what can only be grasped as mere observations. Altho ...more
Gordon
Oct 05, 2014 Gordon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I didn't know what I had picked up when I started to read as I didn't refer to any reviews beforehand. I thought I was reading about a quant British Ambassador to the court of the King & Queen of Naples and Sicily who was an ardent collector and lover/student of volcanoes. Little did I know I was going to travel through a time of great upheaval and revolution and witness the rise and fall of Lord Nelson - from his pre-Egypt exploits to his involvement in thwarting Napoleanic France's de ...more
Lisbeth
As a frequent reader of Regencies, I never thought I would find Emma and Sir William Hamilton this simultaneously appealing and dull. But here's the thing: this isn't actually a historical novel. It's barely a novel. It's a 400-page work on the way Western culture has been created and directed by men. Calling this book historical fiction is like calling Vonnegut a sci-fi writer. There are some things in the book that look like the genre it got dropped into but the author is using them because th ...more
Sandy
Oct 01, 2011 Sandy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Difficult to read. Lots of words I didn't know. I wasn't familiar with the historial figures she was writing about. After I went to Wiki and read up on the main characters, the book made more sense. Author is very wordy. Still, gave good insights on the culture of the time and in-depth character analyses.
Lari
Mar 05, 2016 Lari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's very few books that I can't put down and will carry on reading while walking to and fro.
This is one of them, any fan of Susan Sontag's work will enjoy this book and I am sure anyone new to Susan Sontage will become an instant fan. Very interesting, well-crafted story. A must read, and re-read.
Linda
Sep 14, 2011 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unless one sits with a dictionary next to you, it is difficult to follow. However my vocabulary increased substantially as this writer knows how to use big words in a grand eloquent style of literary genius. However, the story line was a bit boring and I had to push to finish it.
Elke de Echte
Met dezelfde antropologische drijfveren als in haar essays, onderzoekt Susan Sontag het leven van een verzamelaar in de tijd van de Franse revolutie. Deze Britse ambassadeur is gestationeerd in Napels. Zijn fascinatie voor de vulkaan de Vesuvius geldt als metafoor voor de broeierige politieke situatie in Europa; het verzamelen van kunstvoorwerpen voor het krampachtig vasthouden aan monarchistische idealen. Ook al voelen de parallellen soms wat bij het haar getrokken – zeker als er zowaar naar he ...more
metaphor
Aug 20, 2016 metaphor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: susan-sontag
Every pleasure […] becomes an experience of anticipated loss.
*
They belong to different generations, have had such different lives. Yet they have so many of the same tastes, the same disappointments. From stories they passed to confidences, each unwrapping a package of grief and yearning.
*
To be unaccompanied. To be alone. To lower yourself into your own feelings.
There to find mists and vapors. Then little protuberances of old angers and longings. Then a large emptiness. You think of what you ha
...more
Tonya
Oct 20, 2015 Tonya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of them there artsy-fartsy books.
Yeah, you've got to be in the right mood to read this. Her writing is lovely. And the story is actually interesting, but it took me a few pages to adjust to how she writes. There is a narrator but that changes several times and you get almost all points of view. There were times I had to go back and check whose head we were in.
I would say this is a half and half read - half the time I was really into it and than other half time I felt lost or bored.
...more
Jennifer
Jul 20, 2014 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Abandoned due to time constraints. I was only able to finish the first third before my book club meeting. The discussion made me wish I had finished it, but the book remains buried under several others at my bedside. I don't see it displacing other choices for a long time.

The first third follows an art collector hundreds of years ago who is also fascinated by volcanoes. Some interesting insights on buying and selling art and the personal satisfaction of collecting one piece at a time versus buyi
...more
Maire
Sep 13, 2014 Maire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very odd book. It starts off very slowly, (so much so that I stopped reading it for a while at the 150 page mark) with a focus on the least interesting historical character (Sir William Hamilton). Once the two main characters enter the action (Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton), everything really picks up speed. It was fascinating to read so much about a bit of history that I knew next to nothing about--Naples immediately before and during the French Revolution. Most interesting of all tho ...more
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Jewish American literary critic, theorist, novelist, and filmmaker.
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“Every culture has its southerners -- people who work as little as they can, preferring to dance, drink, sing brawl, kill their unfaithful spouses; who have livelier gestures, more lustrous eyes, more colorful garments, more fancifully decorated vehicles, a wonderful sense of rhythm, and charm, charm, charm; unambitious, no, lazy, ignorant, superstitious, uninhibited people, never on time, conspicuously poorer (how could it be otherwise, say the northerners); who for all their poverty and squalor lead enviable lives -- envied, that is, by work-driven, sensually inhibted, less corruptly governed northerners. We are superior to them, say the northerners, clearly superior. We do not shirk our duties or tell lies as a matter of course, we work hard, we are punctual, we keep reliable accounts. But they have more fun than we do ... They caution[ed] themselves as people do who know they are part of a superior culture: we mustn't let ourselves go, mustn't descend to the level of the ... jungle, street, bush, bog, hills, outback (take your pick). For if you start dancing on tables, fanning yourself, feeling sleepy when you pick up a book, developing a sense of rhythm, making love whenever you feel like it -- then you know. The south has got you.” 34 likes
“Desire wills its perpetuation ad infinitum.” 13 likes
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