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  • Published: 17 November 2020
  • ISBN: 9780141977898
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 832
  • RRP: $39.99

Sontag

Her Life




The definitive portrait of one of the twentieth century's most towering figures: her writing and her radical thought, her public activism and her private face

Susan Sontag was our last great literary star. Her brilliant, serious mind combined with her striking image, her rigorous intellectualism and her ground-breaking inquiries into what was then seen as 'low culture' - celebrity, photographs, camp - propelled her into her own unique, inimitable category and made her famous the world over, emblematic of twentieth-century New York literary glamour.


Sontag is the first biography based on exclusive access to her restricted personal archives and on hundreds of interviews conducted with many people around the world who spoke freely for the first time about Susan Sontag, including Annie Leibovitz. It is a definitive portrait of an endlessly complex, dazzling woman; one of the twentieth century's greatest thinkers, who lived one of its most fascinating lives.

  • Published: 17 November 2020
  • ISBN: 9780141977898
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 832
  • RRP: $39.99

Also by Benjamin Moser

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Praise for Sontag

Moser intelligently brings together both public and private, onstage and off-. His scrutiny of her essays, fiction, films, and political activism is clear-eyed, his analysis of her tumultuous affective life sympathetic... Sontag offers a thoroughly researched chronicle of an unparalleled American figure and the institutions tied to her... deft and sometimes dishy

Bookforum

Moser does rather a brilliant job...we have Sontag as daughter, friend, lover, wife and mother, but Moser's writing is appropriately bold and anecdotal, so there is less the feeling of years accrued than of selves tried out. He's an essayist, taking on an essayist, and his best passages are biographical readings of her writing. His assessment of her novels is punchy and insightful...this biography keeps her defiantly alive: argumentative, wilful, often right, always interesting, encouraging us to up our game as we watch her at the top of hers

Lara Feigel, The Guardian

Moser is good at elucidating Sontag's ideas and putting into context the fecundity of her thought. He discusses her "Olympian" sex life with sympathy and insight - her galaxy of lovers included Bobby Kennedy, Jasper Johns, Warren Beatty and Annie Leibovitz - and is unbiased when it comes to evaluating her writing

The Sunday Times

Moser's socially panoramic, psychologically incisive biography does a superb job of charting Sontag's self-invention

The Guardian

There can be no doubting the brilliance - the sheer explanatory vigour - of Moser's biography... a triumph of the virtues of seriousness and truth-telling that Susan Sontag espoused again and again but was conspicuously and often quite consciously unable to force herself to live by.

The New Statesman

Moser has had the confidence and erudition to bring all of [Sontag's] contradictory aspects together in a biography fully commensurate with the scale of his subject. He is...a gifted, compassionate writer.

The TLS

A portrait of the intellectual conscience of the babyboomer generation - faults and all

The Financial Times

sensational...provides an indelible portrait of a personality, a career and various milieu

Leo Robson, Books of the Year, New Statesman

evocative and entertaining...Moser renders Sontag's ascent to intellectual stardom as a rich and often rollicking affair

The Best Books of 2019, Oprah Magazine

An exhausting biography about an exhausting woman that will keep you up nights greedily reading all 800 pages until you pass out exhausted yourself - exhilarated and amazed at this difficult, brilliant but clueless writer's life.

John Waters, The Amazon Book Review

a monumental work that reveals the flawed private person behind the ferocious intellectual public persona

Carl Wilkinson, FT Essential Reads of 2019

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