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Susan Sontag's first bunch of essays.,
This review is from: Against Interpretation: And Other Essays (Paperback)
This is historically the first delivery of the now world-renowned essays by Susan Sontag. Mrs Sontag considers herself primarily a novelist: and,of course, she has every right to do so, but I have the feeling that her novels do not come near in any way to her essays' quality.
In this batch, which is arguably her most famous one, although probably not her best, you can feel all young Sontag's vigour and fire. She is often far nastier in tone than in her later works. She tears to pieces John Gielgud's staging of Hamlet, Gyorgy Lukacs's literary criticism, calls George Steiner "superficial"(!), and destroys contemporary American novelists (they're obsessed with "content" intended as a discussion of moral issues).
The most beautiful piece in this collection are probably the "Notes on Camp". Camp is something which should not be either too beautiful or too ugly; it moves the "connaisseur" because, through its outdated or timelessly ridiculous exterior, it can be felt as the product of an earnest endeavour, a result of the investment of human passion.
Some other essays are more superficial than accustomed, and in the Preface, Sontag aknowledges that she maybe could have taken away some, which were written as simple reviews for magazines. But we can still find the characteristic quality of Sontag's "writing" (meaning "écriture" as defined by Roland Barthes, for those who follow...); an endless redefining, putting into perspective each word or concept introduced, which means that really everything is left in suspence and subject to caution, pointing towards new research to be done.