The Slave of Seriousness: Susan Sontag and the era that made her possible

By Laura Miller | 2019-10-04 | including 1 item |
One of the melancholy facts of a critic’s lot is that however much clout we might wield during our lifetimes, few forms of writing date as quickly or slide so readily into obscurity. The rare critic who crosses over to become a creator of the form he once wrote about—the filmmakers François Truffaut and Peter Bogdanovich are the most familiar examples—will soon see the later work eclipse the earlier. That Susan Sontag was primarily a critic wasn’t a controversial thing to observe during her life, although you didn’t want to do that within her earshot. Benjamin Moser’s new biography of the writer, Sontag, recounts a furious diatribe she delivered from a podium at Skidmore College in 1996, directed at the old friend who had introduced her. “He still doesn’t get that I’m a novelist and that all this other writing he talked about is writing I did to keep writing and have something to do while I was developing myself as a fiction writer,” she told the crowd.