A Susan Sontag Reader (Magill's Literary Annual 1983)
The publication of A Susan Sontag Reader affords an opportunity, indeed invites one, to take stock of the career of this formidably talented woman of letters. Much respected within the restricted circle of the Manhattan literary scene, she has not been treated very generously by American culture at large. Americans do not quite know what to do with “men of letters,” though Edmund Wilson found his place in that respect. It is even more difficult for American society to accept a “woman of letters,” particularly one, like Sontag, whose erudition and interests include literature, film, philosophy, and politics. When Americans accord a woman the title of “writer,” they expect her to be identifiable as a novelist or poet or biographer, but Sontag transcends conventional categories, thereby causing eyebrows to be raised. During her career as a writer, she has somehow come to be regarded more as an “event,” or as someone about whom one must form an opinion in quite a different way from the value placed upon the work of, for example, a Eudora Welty or a Joyce Carol Oates.
Even given the deeply ingrained anti-intellectualism of Americans, it is surprising to note the degree to which Sontag is scornfully stigmatized as an “egghead.” This scorn comes her way from both ends of the political spectrum—both from those on the Right who use...
(The entire section is 1600 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1983)
The Atlantic. CCL, September, 1982, p. 88.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. December 12, 1982, p. 2.
Nation. CCXXXV, October 23, 1982, p. 404.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXVII, October 24, 1982, p. 11.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXII, September 17, 1982, p. 105.
(The entire section is 30 words.)