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Sontag: Her Life and Work

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  73 ratings  ·  18 reviews
One of the New York Times’ 17 New Books to Watch For in September

One of the Washington Post’s Ten Books to Read this September

One of O magazine’s 18 Must-Read Books of Fall 2019



The definitive portrait of one of the American Century’s most towering intellectuals: her writing and her radical thought, her public activism and her hidden private face

No writer is as emblematic of the Ame/>The/>One
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ebook, 832 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by Ecco
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Average rating 4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  73 ratings  ·  18 reviews


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Chrissie
I just do not know where to start in describing Sontag: Her Life and Work by Benjamin Moser. It is very well researched. As the title indicates, it covers both her life and her works. Her relationships with her mother, her sister, her one time husband, her son, her male and female lovers are all explored. It took me a while to be drawn in. She was both an aesthete and a highbrow intellectual. This put me off at the start. I like straight talk. Initially, I found her way of speaking too highfalutin, too pr ...more
Michael
Oct 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
Exhaustive in detail, Sontag meticulously charts the life and career of the famous essayist. Across four wide-ranging parts Moser considers how Sontag transformed from a would-be academic with modest origins into an internationally recognized icon of Manhattanite sophistication. Everything fans of the writer would want to know is here, from facts about her traumatic upbringing and her coming of age to information about the composition of her major books and her political activism. But the analysis is ...more
Michelle
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, reviewed
Sontag: Her Life and Work (2019) written by Benjamin Moser, totally captures the complexities of this dark literary lady and cultural icon. Born Susan Rosenblatt (1933-2004) to Lithuanian Jewish parents, Susan and her only son David Rieff would unapologetically change their given family name to Sontag. It was impossible to contain Sontag’s genius, intellect and persona by the conventions of ordinary life.

The mother daughter dynamic shaped Sontag’s character in numerous obvious and su
...more
Loring Wirbel
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found it a little bit odd that some reviewers of the ARC of this book complained that they did not want to waste 700 pages reading about such a difficult person. I tend to think of gushing hagiographies of historical figures as being almost as creepy as biographies of high-profile villains like Hitler or Napoleon. It's far better to read in detail about challenging personalities, warts and all - and Sontag certainly had her share of warts.

Some may wonder in the opening pages if Ben
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Michelle
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sontag: Her Life and Work (2019) written by Benjamin Moser, totally captures the complexities of this dark literary lady and cultural icon. Born Susan Rosenblatt (1933-2004) to Lithuanian Jewish parents, Susan and her only son David Rieff would unapologetically change their given family name to Sontag. It was impossible to contain Sontag’s genius, intellect and persona by the conventions of ordinary life.

The mother daughter dynamic shaped Sontag’s character in numerous obvious and su
...more
Matthew Wilder
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Susan was, beyond all else, an example. She was an avatar of erudition and high purpose that we didn’t have in American letters in the twentieth century. The closest comparable know-it-all is Harold Bloom, but he’s a traditionalist; Susan was interested in the bleeding edge of culture, the difficult stuff that demanded the most of us. (Why did she never write on Straub-Huillet? She must have known that work.)

Moser, who seems to be part of this fellowship, diagnoses Susan as an Adult
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Jim Higgins
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An outstanding biography of a complicated writer and person who lived a provocative, messy life. One of the surprises (for me) is how Moser sees some of Sontag's behavior rising out of her being the daughter of an alcoholic mother. Moser doesn't belabor this, but he is clear about it, and it makes sense.
Felicia V. Edens
Who is Susan Sontag? You may have heard her name before. The first time I heard her name was as an undergraduate at Columbia College Chicago while pursuing my Bachelor's Degree in Cultural Studies, probably around 2007. The class was assigned to read Notes on Camp . I'm not sure I understood then, as I'm not so sure I understand it now, but this is what fascinated me: that an intellectual, an intellectual woman, was writing about culture, specifically commercial culture in a completely unique wa ...more
Frederic
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A huge disappointment...exhaustively researched and informative but the contempt that the writer shows for Sontag,and many of the peripheral figures in her story,made for quite unpleasant reading...I neither expected nor wanted a hagiography but the relentless pseudo-Freudian 'explanations' turned me off...if one is interested in finding out who Sontag was,read the journals,especially REBORN...
Beth
Evidently I liked this enough to read all 700 pages, but it reminded me of Blake Bailey's biography of Cheever in that by the end you really didn't like the subject of the book. Also, not knowing a lot about Susan Sontag beforehand, this didn't convince me of her amazing contributions to American intellectualism. Overall, a strange and disheartening reading experience.
J Earl
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sontag: Her Life and Work from Benjamin Moser is both a disappointment and a book I would still recommend. Such is the nature of an authorized biography by a mediocre writer whose reputation was built off of a biography that was largely borrowed, all the way down to chapter titles and narrative structure.

As he did with Lispector, Moser tries to inject himself into the biography through questionable interpretations (of both the psychological nature toward Sontag and the literary natur
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Dokter Dewi
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bakol Iwak
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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Lili Bammens
Oct 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Dit boek stelde mij teleur. Ik verwachtte dat een echte biografie want Susan Sontag als mens beter leren kennen, dat boeide me wel. Ik las van haar enkel "De vulkaanminnaar", in de 1e leesgroep waar ik ooit bij was, De Maasdemoisellen, ooit nog als leesgroep aan bod gekomen bij de VPRO!
Maar dit geheel terzijde, zou Brusselmans zeggen.
De biografie dus, die stelde me teleur omdat er naar mijn smaak te veel werd ingegaan op de filosofie. Niet enkel die van Susan Zondag maar ook op die v
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Matthew Knott
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a tremendous biography that is far more readable and less daunting than its subject matter and size would suggest. It is unflinching and at times very critical of Sontag: she comes across as a tyrant in the later years of her personal life and Moser castigates her for not using her stature to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic. But then you see her genuinely courageous work to bring attention to the genocide in Bosnia + her remarkable breadth of cultural knowledge. The chapters are sho ...more
Elbrozzie
Got halfway through then bailed. Aside from a tedious read--a book worthy of being a door stop, Moser seems bent to show off how smart he is--even smarter than Sontag.
Mark Wheaton
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An incredible life revealed in a great and unflinching biography. Rare to get to the end of a 700-page hardcover and realize you wish you still had a couple more volumes to go.
William Dury
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
My first DNF. Loved her life in the San Fernando Valley as a youngster, and her trips to Pick Wick bookstore in Hollywood. (Is it still there?) Loved that at the age of fifteen, per the school Principal, she had read more books than her English teacher. Loved that she got reprimanded for reading Kant instead of Readers Digest in, most likely, the same teacher’s class. I grew less interesting as she got to college and married the guy who took credit for a book she ghost wrote for him. I DNF’d whe ...more
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Benjamin Moser is a writer, editor, critic, and translator who was born in Houston in 1976 and lives in the Netherlands. After attending high school in Texas and France, he graduated from Brown University with a degree in History. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Utrecht.

He worked at Foreign Affairs magazine and Alfred A. Knopf in New York before becoming an editor a
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