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Alice in Bed Paperback – June 1, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sontag's ( The Volcano Lover ) first stage play focuses on Alice James, the invalid sister of Henry and William and, since Jean Strouse's acclaimed 1980 biography and the publication of her diary, a feminist icon. It is in the latter role that Sontag casts the bed-ridden Alice, and playing off her name, she suggests, too, another, more famous Alice of fiction--to the extent that the center of the play's action is a tea party. The tea party becomes a gathering of independent women of imagination: Emily Dickinson, Margaret Fuller, Myrtha from the ballet Giselle and, as the somnolent dormouse, Kundry from Wagner's Parsifal. Alice's doting brother Henry makes a couple of appearances as well. Unfortunately, although Sontag acknowledges that her work is "a free fantasy based on a real person," none of the characters ever breathes with life; each lies flat on the page as a mouthpiece for Sontag's ideas about the imagination's dual role as liberator and jailer for a 19th-century woman of intelligence and about "women's anguish and women's consciousness of self." Moreover, her dialogue is arch and literary. Regrettably, Sontag can add her name to a list of talented novelist-critics whose stage work disappoints.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Sontag ( The Volcano Lover , LJ 6/15/92) describes her play as a "free dramatic fantasy based on a real person," Alice James, the sister of William and Henry James. A brilliant woman who suffered from depression from the age of 19, James died from breast cancer at age 44. The center of the play is "a mad tea party," a la Alice in Wonderland , to which Sontag has convened real and fictional 19th-century women to counsel the protagonist. Emily Dickinson; Margaret Fuller; Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis (from the ballet Giselle ); and Kundry (from the opera Parsifal ) all make appearances. The dialog is terse and the action tense in this trenchant tale of imagination and feminine anger and grief. Recently excerpted in the New Yorker (5/31/93), this play had its premiere (in translation) in Bonn during September 1991. Recommended for all drama and literature collections.
- Carolyn M. Mulac, Chicago P.L.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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More About the Author

Susan Sontag was born in Manhattan in 1933 and studied at the universities of Chicago, Harvard and Oxford. She is the author of four novels, a collection of stories, several plays, and six books of essays, among them Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors. Her books are translated into thirty-two languages. In 2001 she was awarded the Jerusalem Prize for the body of her work, and in 2003 she received the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. She died in December 2004.

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