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The Sontag essay

The late Susan Sontag practised cultural forms promiscuously. The one which made her great was the essay, and the theme she made her own was pain

By David Herman   February 2005

Like Zelig, Susan Sontag was where the action was. In the late 1950s, she was in Paris during the heyday of Godard and Truffaut. She was back in New York in the early 1960s, enthusing about Andy Warhol and John Cage. In the late 1960s, she travelled to Hanoi. In the 1970s, she took part in the famous debate about feminism with Norman Mailer and Germaine Greer in New York. In the Reagan years she denounced communism, and in the 1980s celebrity culture there she was on the cover of Vanity Fair. She wrote about Aids at the height of…

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