Form and Content
Against Interpretation, and Other Essays is a collection of twenty-seven essays and reviews which Susan Sontag, once the darling of the New York avant garde, originally published between 1962 and 1965 in such journals as Partisan Review, The New York Review of Books, Moviegoer, and Evergreen Review. Although she has written novels and screenplays since, this, her first collection of essays, established her reputation as a spokesperson for what she defined as a new existential sensibility, and it remains her best-known work.
The collection is organized into five sections. The first, which contains only the two well-known essays, “Against Interpretation” and “On Style,” focuses on general aesthetic issues: what constitutes the artwork and what is the proper way to behold it. The second, third, and fourth sections focus, respectively, on books, theater, and film, particularly the writers, dramatists, and filmmakers whom Sontag herself most admires. The final section, which contains another of her most famous essays, “Notes on ‘Camp,”’ deals with more general cultural topics such as psychoanalysis, “happenings,” and what Sontag calls “the new sensibility”—a sensibility which bridges the gap between the two cultures of science and art.
Although the essays were written on many different occasions—sometimes as reviews of books or plays, sometimes as thought pieces on...
(The entire section is 556 words.)