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Notes on Sontag Hardcover – Mar 29 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (March 29 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691135703
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691135700
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 11.8 x 18.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,002,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Amazon.com: 5 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The Art of Balance April 12 2009
By bettina podler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
There's great imaginative sympathy in this assessment of Sontag and her work, and no knife in the ribs. It's utterly unlike those remembrances of literary celebrities by contemporaries who establish their authority by boasting of intimacy with the subject and then use these occasions to tell secrets and destroy reputations.
Judicious though the book is, Lopate's tone is anything but solemn. Instead, he registers his interest, approval, exasperation, amusement, disapproval, envy of Sontag, conflicted longing for friendship with her, etc., as he goes along. He writes here both as critic and as personal essayist and what he creates is a kind of double portrait. By acknowledging and examining his reactions, he frees himself from their control; that makes his stance toward his subject particularly supple, and his insights multi-angled.
Through his career as a personal essayist, Lopate has valued balance. He has demonstrated the art of balance in his own personal essays and students and admirers have taken note. It hasn't been a cautious, middle-of-the-road kind of exercise, but a real struggle, at times a painful one, requiring the disclosure of much that is unbecoming. Over and over he has achieved it (would that Sontag had!). Here he has done it again, and with this little book, has -- I believe -- truly established himself as a literary senior statesman.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fair Dec 29 2010
By Steiner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Phillip Lopate is an essayist writing a warm essay about a great essayist, the late Susan Sontag. This little book is an incisive account of Sontag's accomplished aesthetic and cultural writings; it traces her career from the stylish and radical defender of camp to the solemn moralist of Regarding the Pain of Others. Lopate strives for balance in his account, he constantly weighs her achievements against her failings as a novelist in such a way as to present a reasonably fair assessment. There are naturally many moments of Lopate's own insecurity in this text-too many anecdotes regarding Sontag's failure to see his talent. But still, this is a rich and valuable text.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Lopates take on Sontag June 7 2010
By Randall L. Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Philip Lopate is a wonderful essayist with an always engaging personal style. He does a credible job at reviewing Sontag's work and personality as he experienced it and her. He also comes clean on his need for her approval and having to live with the fact that he never got it.

But I think he dances around the elephant in the room which is Sontag's self-mythology that spawned a cultural equivalent about her. While much of her writing is laudable, incisive and even brillant, it will be her iconic status as both the high priestess of intellectual seriousness and that of the sexy, man-eating intellectual that will forever cast a shadow over often her impressive work.

Maybe Lopate was too close to both aspects - the intellectual elite where Sontag really matters and his own personal even if tenuous relationship with the diva.

For all her brilliance, Sontag is said to have been a petty, insecure, often cold and insensitive snob who was unable to transform her acute intelligence into productive self awareness and dare I say, grace as she aged.

That is what made her iconic, the towering intellectual who was clueless about human beings. I believe that her soaring gracelessness is the stuff of New York intelligentsia legend. Lopate hints at this reputation and gives us just a taste of it in the book. Rather than tip-toe around the Sontagian personality, that toxic mixture of myth making, extreme vulnerability, massive ego, and extreme vitality, he should have confronted it directly along with her writing. For the truth is that Sontag will forever remain a legendary personality that will be remember long after anyone remembers the title of a single one of her books.
not bad Jan. 27 2014
By Zöe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
He gives some rare seen details about Sontag, it feels like a combination of memoir and a long essay. ^^
7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Much Ado About Noting March 23 2009
By Charles Weinstein - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Phillip Lopate, warm and sane as ever, labors diligently to persuade us that Sontag is a major intellect and a permanent writer. He fails, of course, but that is Sontag's fault and not his own. Lopate can be faulted for his Manhattan insularity, his dated cinephilia, his excessive loyalty to formative youth experiences (the latter accounting for both his datedness and his insularity). But these are human frailties, and Lopate is never less than attractively human, something which can hardly be said of Sontag.


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