Susan Sontag…

…has died at the age of 71. I hope those boys in Stockholm are happy now; they have another name to add to the long, long list of great writers who deserved the Nobel but died before they got the nod. I never quite forgave the Academy for keeping W G Sebald permanently on the Nobel shortlist for years while lesser talents shuffled off with the laurel wreath, and then he died in an accident. Perhaps I’m a little angrier about Sontag being overlooked because I’ve just finished reading two works by Jelinek, and was left distinctly underwhelmed. Her website has a decent, if clinical, biography; Newsday has an excerpt from a speech she gave this April:

“The truth is, whatever it might occur to you to say about what a writer ideally should be, there is always something more.

A great writer of fiction both creates a new, unique, individual world—through acts of imagination, through language that feels inevitable, through commanding forms—and responds to a world, the world the writer shares with other people but that is unknown or mis-known by still more people, confined in their worlds. Call that history, society, what you will. The writers who matter most to us are those who enlarge our consciences and our sympathies and our knowledge.”

Oh, she mattered all right.

4 comments

  1. As far as I know, the TLS online centenary archives stop at 1990. So the only way to get your hands on something printed in the last decade is to find a hard copy, i think.

  2. You can find the essay ‘The World as India’ in the posthumous collection of Susan Sontag’s hitherto unpublished work. Its title is ‘At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches'(New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007).Suzanne

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