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The Benefactor

3.59  ·  Rating Details  ·  249 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
The Benefactor, Susan Sontag's first book and first novel, originally published in 1963, introduced a unique writer to the world. In the form of a memoir by a latter-day Candide named Hippolyte, The Benefactor leads us on a kind of psychic Grand Tour, in which Hippolyte's violently imaginative dream life becomes indistinguishable from his surprising experiences in the 're
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 1st 2002 by Picador (first published 1963)
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Jan 13, 2016 William1 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, us, 20-ce
Sontag wrote this, the first of her four novels, in the early sixties, when the Freudian theory of dream interpretation still held water. We know today from the work of neuroscientists that there is no consensus on what dreams mean, if anything. Indeed, some researchers have called dreams meaningless, nothing more than an overactive brain repeating recent stimuli during the nightly period of sensory deprivation. The narrator here, Hippolyte, evinces a powerful inwardness and love of solitude. Hi ...more
Apr 04, 2010 El rated it liked it
When I was little, one of my brothers and I came across a movie on HBO and the scene we saw scared the bejeebus out of me. I saw the movie again in high school during a lecture on dreams in a psychology class and was re-traumatized all over again. The movie, in case you care, was Dreamscape. Scared the shit out of me. As a kid I went through a phase of being too scared to open the big closet in the family room. It's where all the toys were, so this made life tough. Eventually I got over it, but ...more
Dec 08, 2015 Matthew rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels-novellas
My reading of The Benefactor was directly influenced by simultaneously reading her famous essay, Against Interpretation. Published a few years apart, the germ of Against Interpretation is present in The Benefactor. It's possible that the two works evolve from the same idea. The idea being, as the title of the essay suggests, that the interpretation of a work of art robs the potential audience of the full range of sensory pleasure to be found therein. This statement may give the reader a basic su ...more
Alan D.D.
Es un libro que te pone a pensar MUCHO. Las cosas que crees son simples de repente cobran otro sentido, te das cuenta de que a veces las decisiones más insignificantes, las imprudencias, las "cosas de la juventud" pueden acarrear graves consecuencias.
La forma de escribir es diferente, ciertamente, con partes muy densas, incluso en las últimas páginas empiezas a dudar de la calidad del libro porque un hayas un final que pueda cumplir las expectativas, pero de repente BOOM! allí está y quedas con
Zöe Yu
Jul 27, 2011 Zöe Yu rated it really liked it
You would never know the result until you read the last paragraph!! Also DREAMS! and I felt like I am a wonderer in the world.
Jun 20, 2008 Paul added it
boring. if i want to hear about peoples boring dreams, i'll read the script to Nightmare on Elm Street 3 :the dream warriors.
Oct 13, 2015 Peter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
Hippolyte, the arch-existentialist, finds meaning in life through looking inwards – to his dreams. Told in a rather formal, old-fashioned, literary style The Benefactor is presented as his memoir – from his early years as a financially independent though utterly unambitious student and the first of his enigmatic, repetitive dreams to his curious, subsequent acts: ”I was not looking for my dreams to interpret my life” he says, ”but rather for my life to interpret my dreams.” Not surprisingly, for ...more
Dec 16, 2014 Diego rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Se trata de un hombre obsesionado con sus sueños. Se pone a analizar lo que ha soñado (casí como un psicoanalista, pero sin recurrir a las ideas freudianas), y de acuerdo a sus análisis, actúa o toma una postura ante su vida.

Pero esto lo lleva a ser egoísta y a vivir a pesar de los demás. Deja sus estudios y recibe remuneración de su padre. A su amante la abandona a su suerte en el desierto. Tiene una esposa literalmente de adorno.

Es una historia de tipo existencialista. La mayor parte de la h
Jan 20, 2014 Aida rated it really liked it
"Nosotros no saboreamos la muerte- seremos saboreados por la muerte. Seremos completos- pues estaremos vacíos. Seremos extremos- pues seremos perfectos.
Cuando uno se hace tomar una fotografía, el fotógrafo dice: ¡perfecto! ¡Igual que usted! Eso es la muerte.
La vida es una película. La muerte es una fotografía. "

Estoy impresionada con Susan Sontag. Es la primera novela que tengo el gusto de leer de esta maravillosa escritora. Ya leí muchos textos y anécdotas, tenía una impresión vaga de lo bueno
Jan 06, 2009 Anjali rated it liked it
I spent a long time on this book a while ago; it's one of those that makes you think. I'm not sure it's what I expected from Susan Sontag. While I'm surprised to generalize like this, I have to say it's a very "male" book, and if I hadn't known, I would easily assume the author was a man. I can't think of many other books that fit that bill, except for (maybe???) the Harry Potter series?

The main character of this book decides to quit all the things he is doing in life to interpret and live out h
Apr 13, 2014 Lysergius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
An interesting ad entertaining examination of the dangers of extreme subjectivity. It has to be said that sometimes when one wakes from a dream it is hard to know if you are the butterfly dreaming it is Chang tsu or Chang tsu dreaming he is the butterfly.
Viviane Moritz
Mar 22, 2016 Viviane Moritz rated it it was amazing
It's been 25 years since I've read this book, but it's one of those stories that sticks with you. Events in life make me think about it almost every year, just as it just did yesterday, so I wanted to mention it.
S.D. Johnson
Mar 22, 2015 S.D. Johnson rated it it was amazing
One of the most intelligent and imaginative novels I have read. It has a rather Hessian flavor, especially at the beginning, but many surprising twists. In content, I sense influences of Sartre, Beckett and Camus in particular, but I shant go into details or give away spoilers. I know that Sontag shares these literary obsessions with myself, and after reading this novel very much look forward to her essays, which cover familiar and loved territory for me.
Steven Pennebaker
May 25, 2014 Steven Pennebaker rated it really liked it
"novel by susan sontag", as much as i enjoy her non fiction, did NOT seem like a good idea. i was wrong, it was excellent, i may seek out her other novels someday.
Lo Fi
Oct 09, 2015 Lo Fi rated it liked it
Hippolyte puts too much stock in his dreams , even if that is the plot of the novel, I found it a little more confusing that it was meant to be. Overall a good read though
Lacin Tutalar
Why have you become such an evil loner, Hippolyte? So detached from your social roles in waking life, so detached from your roles in dream life, blurring the lines between worlds, and mocking the border?...

Also, here is a 1-hour-long talk by Sontag which took place in November 1964, supposedly connected and in conversation with the themes of the book, which came out in 1963:
Oct 04, 2015 J. rated it it was ok
I don't know, I love Susan Sontag's interviews - she comes across as a straightforward and brilliant woman (as she does in the quotes and passages I've read of hers) but honestly speaking this novel didn't really do anything memorable to me. Perhaps it's because this is her first novel but I'll read more in the future for sure.
May 13, 2016 Gabriel rated it really liked it
Sontag's book is a strange dream-like tale about Hypolite and his decisions in life, but above all that is a novel about ideas. In all the book you can perceive the deepness of Sontag's thoughts about a lot of topics, but specially about dreams. The final part is just fantastic.
Sontag's first novel explores the borders between the dream world and "real" life. She also explores ideas about memory and how it's difficult to know for sure what really happened versus what is being remembered, and how can one verify which is which.

More later....
Nicholas Dicarlo
Mar 16, 2012 Nicholas Dicarlo rated it really liked it
Trippy, disturbing, and delightful. I love when my eyes come off the page and see the world in a different way. I found the book elegant and annoying, incomprehensible and yet very sensible. I can't wait to read more of Sontag's fiction.
May 01, 2008 Dylan rated it it was amazing
an enjoyable read for the first 4/5ths of the book. . . then, in the last 50 or so pages, you realize how absolutely incredible the novel is.
Jen Saldarriaga
Nice, very nice. Her narrative and details of the story are very tasty. You can't get bored of this.
May 18, 2012 Dave added it
I felt like this was an inside joke that I wasn't in on.
Josh A
Nov 13, 2009 Josh A rated it it was amazing
I love this weird book about dreams!
Sep 22, 2009 Jakub rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was sorry to see it end.
Oct 10, 2012 Coffee.and.boox rated it liked it
in deutsch
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Jun 29, 2016
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Jun 26, 2016
Mahelin rated it it was ok
Jun 25, 2016
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Jun 15, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 19 20 next »
  • A Barthes Reader
  • Statements
  • Swimming in a Sea of Death: A Son's Memoir
  • Love's Body
  • Growing Up Absurd
  • Forests: The Shadow of Civilization
  • Conversations with Susan Sontag
  • Fantastic Worlds: Myths, Tales, and Stories
  • The Voyeur
  • Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag
  • Artemisia
  • A Smuggler's Bible
  • The Coup
  • Darconville’s Cat
  • The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in Daily Life
  • Getting Down to Business
  • Other People
  • Primer cambio
Jewish American literary critic, theorist, novelist, and filmmaker.
More about Susan Sontag...

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“The truth is always something that is told, not something that is known. If there were no speaking or writing, there would be no truth about anything. There would only be what is.” 47 likes
“I was not looking for my dreams to interpret my life, but rather for my life to interpret my dreams” 5 likes
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