資料彙整   /   作家  /  Susan  Sontag  蘇姍•桑塔格
Susan  Sontag
蘇姍•桑塔格
圖片來源:http://www.susansontag.com/biography.htm
主要文類:Essay
資料提供者:
關鍵字詞:Essyist,novelist,filmmaker,thinker, analyst of culture

 
Susan Sontag
(1933-   )
 
 Her Life

 Her Works and Influence

   
 
 

 Her Life

   Family and Educational Background

Susan Sontag, the famous social commentator, essayist, novelist and human right activist, was born to the Ronsenblatts in 1933.  Jack Ronsenblatt was a fur trader who spent most of his life running his export business and traveling.  Born in New York, Sontag as well as her sister Judith was raised mostly by her grandparents and aunts for her parents tended to their business in China.  In 1938, Jack Ronsenblatt died of tuberculosis in China; after that, Mildred decided to move to Tucson for the sake of Sontag's health.  When she began her teaching career, Sontag started her schooling at six.  Owing to her comprehensive reading from the age of three, Sontag skipped two years at school.  Mildred remarried Captain Nathan when Sontag was twelve, and Sontag was hence the last name she took from her stepfather. 

At the age of fifteen, Sontag entered University of California at Berkeley, but stayed there for merely one year, and then she transferred to the University of Chicago where she go her B.A.  It is said that she married Philip Rieff, a professor of sociologist when she was seventeen years old after ten days they knew each other.  Sontag went with Rieff to Harvard and continued her study.  After gaining her M.A. in English and Philosophy, she applied for the Ph.D. program at Harvard.  She had David, her first and only child, when she was a Ph.D. candidate in 1952.  Though she later admitted that the marriage with Rieff was fine, she divorced him after she returned to New York after her study at Oxford and Paris.  At the end of the 1950s, she started to teach and write as an editor in New York.

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 Her works and influence

    As a writer

After her divorce, she began her teaching position at Sarah Lawrence College and the City College of New York.  From 1960, she worked four years as an instructor at Columbia University, and she had published 26 essays from 1962 to 1965.  At the age of 30, her first novel, The Benefactor, came out.  The novel was well-received and it not only drew positive comments but was popular in the book market.  After the novel, she became a writer-in-residence at Rutgers University.  Her essay “Notes on Camp” appeared in 1964 and aroused extensive discussion on the topic of aesthetic.  The same essay also appeared in later collection of essays, Against Interpretation and Other Essays, in which she has justified the so-called lowbrow culture and proposed a rejection of interpretation.  She generated the idea of “transparency” that was to take a work of art as “a thing” with a close look and experience the style and content without comments.  Because of this regarding a form of art as a thing itself, not as a text, nor a commentary, Sontag asked for the viewer to return the work without judgmental analysis.  After Against Interpretation, she worked on essays exploring all sorts of topics such as cinema, photography and music.  In the 1960s, she published her second novel Death Kit, another collection of essays The Style of Radical Will(1969), and Trip to Hanoi(1968).  In the 1970s, she expanded her study further on photography and published On Photography(1977); her work Illness as Metaphor (1978)came along with her suffering during the cancer treatment, and the collection of short stories I, Etcetera (1978) at the end of the 1970s.  Following the 1970s, besides Under the Sign of Saturn, her third collection of essays, she extended her reflection of illness to the so-called plague of the century – AIDS, and hence finished writing AIDS and Its Metaphors in 1988.  Her novels The Western Half and The Volcano Lover came at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s respectively, and then In America in 1999, came with the aura of the National Book Award in the Millennium.  Another collection of essays Where the Stress Falls, however, was criticized and attacked by Williwm Deresiwicz on her position as America's leading intellectual.  The critique was totally different from what she has received in 1982 from Stanley Aronowitz, who considered her to be the feminist movement leading character and a guru figure.  Despite the harsh criticism she received in 2001, Regarding the Pain of Others has been released lately in 2003 with her imagery of war.

As a screenplay writer and a director

Sontag's first film Duet for Cannibals appeared in 1969 in New York Film Festival.  She not merely wrote screenplays, but created three more films after that; they are Brother Carl (1971), Promised Lands (1974), and Ungruided Tour (1983).  Both Alice in Bed and Lady from the Sea have been popular plays that are translated into many languages and performed in numerous countries all over the world.  It is because of her effort on cinema and plays that had won her a position on the jury of the New York Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival back in late 1960s and early 1970s.  Recently, Sontag has directed Beckett's Waiting for Godot in 1993 in Sarajevo, where she was made an honorary citizen.

Awards and influence

As a writer whose productions of the novels, essays, screenplays and the plays have been translated into more than twenty-five languages all over the world, Sontag has won the George Polk Memorial Award in 1964, the American Academy Ingram Merrill Foundation Award (1976), National Book Critics Circle Award (1977) for her On Photography, Arts and Letters award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1976), Academy of Sciences and Literature Award in Germany (1979), a five-year Fellowship of the MacArthur Foundation from 1990, the Malaparte Prize in Italy (1992), the National Book Award for In America in 2000, and the 2001 Jerusalem Prize.  But Sontag's influence on America is never limited at the academic realm.  Her efforts on human right as a member of writer, organizer and later the president of PEN have made her a world-known leader when it comes to the credit of rescuing the imprisoned and persecuted writers and intellectuals. 

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Reference

Contemporary Authors Online.  The Gale Group, 2000.

http://www.susansontag.com/biography.htm

http://www.kirjasto.sci.fu/sontag.htm

http://www.pbs.org/now/arts/sontag.html

The New Encyclopædia Britannica.  15th Edition. 

Sayre, Sohnya.  Susan Songtag: The Elegic Modernist.  London: Routledge, 1990.

     
     
 
   
 
   
 

 

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