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Notes on Sontag (Writers on Writers)

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"Phillip Lopate is so sensible that we can overlook just how smart and audacious he also is. In Notes on Sontag, he manages a dazzling, melancholy anatomy as Robert Burton would have understood the notion, and his interrogation of Sontag is all the more impressive and resonant because this is a self-interrogation too, shrewd, ardent, skeptical, canny."--Robert Polito, director of the New School Writing Program

"Susan Sontag was an indispensable writer, and she has now been engaged by an equally indispensable writer whose essential charm, irreverence, and gift for the unexpected make him an ideal guide to Sontag's work. Lopate's book is at once intensely personal and rigorous, never less than passionate in its commitment to what is most bracing and individual in Sontag's writing."--Robert Boyers, editor of Salmagundi

"This is just what we need: a book on Susan Sontag by a writer allergic to hype and genuinely fascinated by Sontag's ideas and the implications of her cultural presence. Lopate is exacting in his estimates--able to praise and criticize with equal sureness. He speaks straight, from eye-level, as a literary colleague: he knew Sontag and has heard all the stories. More important, he knows the work and its subjects--the novels, films, and debates--deeply. Notes on Sontag is a portrait of the author; it is also a portrait of an era in American intellectual life."--Sven Birkerts, author of Reading Life: Books for the Ages

"Lopate and Sontag are an inspired pairing. Lopate has just the right distance on Sontag--neither sycophant nor peer--to write trenchantly and sympathetically about her achievements, but he's also unsparing about her occasional idiocies. Some of the best things in the book are the personal vignettes about close encounters with Sontag, where Lopate stands in for the reader and fan, often getting burned in the process."--Christopher Benfey, Mount Holyoke College

Synopsis:

"Phillip Lopate is so sensible that we can overlook just how smart and audacious he also is. In Notes on Sontag, he manages a dazzling, melancholy anatomy as Robert Burton would have understood the notion, and his interrogation of Sontag is all the more impressive and resonant because this is a self-interrogation too, shrewd, ardent, skeptical, canny."--Robert Polito, director of the New School Writing Program

"Susan Sontag was an indispensable writer, and she has now been engaged by an equally indispensable writer whose essential charm, irreverence, and gift for the unexpected make him an ideal guide to Sontag's work. Lopate's book is at once intensely personal and rigorous, never less than passionate in its commitment to what is most bracing and individual in Sontag's writing."--Robert Boyers, editor of Salmagundi

"This is just what we need: a book on Susan Sontag by a writer allergic to hype and genuinely fascinated by Sontag's ideas and the implications of her cultural presence. Lopate is exacting in his estimates--able to praise and criticize with equal sureness. He speaks straight, from eye-level, as a literary colleague: he knew Sontag and has heard all the stories. More important, he knows the work and its subjects--the novels, films, and debates--deeply. Notes on Sontag is a portrait of the author; it is also a portrait of an era in American intellectual life."--Sven Birkerts, author of Reading Life: Books for the Ages

"Lopate and Sontag are an inspired pairing. Lopate has just the right distance on Sontag--neither sycophant nor peer--to write trenchantly and sympathetically about her achievements, but he's also unsparing about her occasional idiocies. Some of the best things in the book are the personal vignettes about close encounters with Sontag, where Lopate stands in for the reader and fan, often getting burned in the process."--Christopher Benfey, Mount Holyoke College

Synopsis:

Notes on Sontag is a frank, witty, and entertaining reflection on the work, influence, and personality of one of the "foremost interpreters of . . . our recent contemporary moment." Adopting Sontag's favorite form, a set of brief essays or notes that circle around a topic from different perspectives, renowned essayist Phillip Lopate considers the achievements and limitations of his tantalizing, daunting subject through what is fundamentally a conversation between two writers. Reactions to Sontag tend to be polarized, but Lopate's account of Sontag's significance to him and to the culture over which she loomed is neither hagiography nor hatchet job. Despite admiring and being inspired by her essays, he admits a persistent ambivalence about Sontag. Lopate also describes the figure she cut in person through a series of wry personal anecdotes of his encounters with her over the years.

Setting out from middle-class California to invent herself as a European-style intellectual, Sontag raised the bar of critical discourse and offered up a model of a freethinking, imaginative, and sensual woman. But while crediting her successes, Lopate also looks at how her taste for aphorism and the radical high ground led her into exaggerations that could do violence to her own common sense, and how her ambition to be seen primarily as a novelist made her undervalue her brilliant essays. Honest yet sympathetic, Lopate's engaging evaluation reveals a Sontag who was both an original and very much a person of her time.

About the Author

Phillip Lopate is the author of many books, including the essay collections "Getting Personal" (Basic), "Against Joie de Vivre" (Simon and Schuster), "Portrait of My Body" (Doubleday), and "Bachelorhood" (Little, Brown), as well as the anthology, "The Art of the Personal Essay" (Doubleday). Among his other books is "Waterfront: A Walk around Manhattan" (Crown). He teaches writing at Columbia University, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691135700
Author:
Lopate, Phillip
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Location:
Princeton
Subject:
Women and literature
Subject:
History
Subject:
American - General
Subject:
Essays
Subject:
Women and literature -- United States.
Subject:
United States Intellectual life.
Subject:
American Language and Literature
Subject:
Literature: Primary Works and Letters
Subject:
American literature
Subject:
Anthologies-Essays
Copyright:
Series:
Writers on Writers
Publication Date:
May 2009
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
7 x 4.5 in 1 oz

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Essays
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » World History » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General

Notes on Sontag (Writers on Writers) Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691135700 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "Phillip Lopate is so sensible that we can overlook just how smart and audacious he also is. In Notes on Sontag, he manages a dazzling, melancholy anatomy as Robert Burton would have understood the notion, and his interrogation of Sontag is all the more impressive and resonant because this is a self-interrogation too, shrewd, ardent, skeptical, canny."--Robert Polito, director of the New School Writing Program

"Susan Sontag was an indispensable writer, and she has now been engaged by an equally indispensable writer whose essential charm, irreverence, and gift for the unexpected make him an ideal guide to Sontag's work. Lopate's book is at once intensely personal and rigorous, never less than passionate in its commitment to what is most bracing and individual in Sontag's writing."--Robert Boyers, editor of Salmagundi

"This is just what we need: a book on Susan Sontag by a writer allergic to hype and genuinely fascinated by Sontag's ideas and the implications of her cultural presence. Lopate is exacting in his estimates--able to praise and criticize with equal sureness. He speaks straight, from eye-level, as a literary colleague: he knew Sontag and has heard all the stories. More important, he knows the work and its subjects--the novels, films, and debates--deeply. Notes on Sontag is a portrait of the author; it is also a portrait of an era in American intellectual life."--Sven Birkerts, author of Reading Life: Books for the Ages

"Lopate and Sontag are an inspired pairing. Lopate has just the right distance on Sontag--neither sycophant nor peer--to write trenchantly and sympathetically about her achievements, but he's also unsparing about her occasional idiocies. Some of the best things in the book are the personal vignettes about close encounters with Sontag, where Lopate stands in for the reader and fan, often getting burned in the process."--Christopher Benfey, Mount Holyoke College

"Synopsis" by , Notes on Sontag is a frank, witty, and entertaining reflection on the work, influence, and personality of one of the "foremost interpreters of . . . our recent contemporary moment." Adopting Sontag's favorite form, a set of brief essays or notes that circle around a topic from different perspectives, renowned essayist Phillip Lopate considers the achievements and limitations of his tantalizing, daunting subject through what is fundamentally a conversation between two writers. Reactions to Sontag tend to be polarized, but Lopate's account of Sontag's significance to him and to the culture over which she loomed is neither hagiography nor hatchet job. Despite admiring and being inspired by her essays, he admits a persistent ambivalence about Sontag. Lopate also describes the figure she cut in person through a series of wry personal anecdotes of his encounters with her over the years.

Setting out from middle-class California to invent herself as a European-style intellectual, Sontag raised the bar of critical discourse and offered up a model of a freethinking, imaginative, and sensual woman. But while crediting her successes, Lopate also looks at how her taste for aphorism and the radical high ground led her into exaggerations that could do violence to her own common sense, and how her ambition to be seen primarily as a novelist made her undervalue her brilliant essays. Honest yet sympathetic, Lopate's engaging evaluation reveals a Sontag who was both an original and very much a person of her time.

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