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Sontag, Susan

Later Essays

  • Editorial: Library of America
  • Páginas: 865
  • Año: 2017
  • Precio: 51.25 €
  • EAN: 9781598535198

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From literature, painting, dance, music, and film to such political flashpoints as the Balkans, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 9/11, the Iraq War, and Abu Ghraib, in her final decades Susan Sontag brought her fervent curiosity and expansive intellect to bear on an extraordinarily broad compass of subjects. This second volume in Library of America’s definitive edition of her collected essays gathers Under the Sign of Saturn (1980), AIDS and Its Metaphors (1989), Where the Stress Falls (2001), Regarding the Pain of Others (2003), and At the Same Time (2007), brilliant books in which Sontag did not merely comment on the cultural and political landscape, but helped shape it, solidifying her place as the most provocative and influential critic of her time.
“You might say that she has diverted the mainstream,” Hillary Mantel has written. “Her private islands of thought now look like the territory on which we’ve always lived.” Sontag once observed how reading books in translation gave her, from an early age, a sense of literature as “mental travel.” Here is the extraordinary logbook of her literary adventures, scintillating examinations of the writers she most admired and championed: Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Nadine Gordimer, Jorge Luis Borges, Antonin Artaud, Marina Tsvetaeva, W. G. Sebald, Elias Canetti, Machado de Assis, Halldór Laxness, Joseph Brodsky, and Robert Walser among them. The names alone reflect her passion for broadening the cultural frame of reference to encompass the whole world.
Sontag writes with unwavering rigor and intensity,asking the most difficult questions and affirming a deep commitment to “extending our sense of what a human life can be,” as she said on accepting the Jerusalem Prize in 2000. In “Fascinating Fascism,” her incisive reading of the films of Leni Riefenstahl, she ponders the insidious allure of Fascist aesthetics. AIDS and Its Metaphors reckons with the HIV crisis through an elaboration of the central themes of her 1978 classic Illness as Metaphor. Regarding the Pain of Others extends her lifelong absorption with photography to explore the troubling moral issues surrounding visual depictions of violence, cruelty, and atrocity. In “A Century of Cinema” she evokes the time, only recently passed, when movies were experienced as “poetic and mysterious and erotic and moral—all at the same time.” “Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo,” an account of staging a production of Beckett’s play in a city under siege, becomes a meditation on the meaning of culture: “Culture, serious culture, is an expression of human dignity—which is what people in Sarajevo feel they have lost.”

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