"I intend to do everything...I shall anticipate pleasure everywhere and find it too, for it is everywhere! I shall involve myself wholly...everything matters!" This first selection from Susan Sontag's diaries (from 1947-1963) takes us from early adolescence through to when Sontag was in her early 30s. It is an astonishingly affecting and honest self-portrait which is also a fascinating, revealing account of an artist and critic being born. We see Sontag honing her skills and fashioning herself, by a supreme act of will, into an intellectual force.
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Susan Sontag Deserves Better
I love Susan Sontag's work, and I was looking forward to something that showed the progression of her early thinking - so much so that I listened to over eight hours of Reborn: Journals and Notebooks. The books and authors Sontag might have been reading (she often listed future authors to read as well as past) have no record of any kind of engaged dialogue, nor even what triggered her interest. I sat wondering where the writing/essays/work where that accompanied her journal record. With regards to the personal struggles, she didn't explore them, completely appropriate to a personal journal, she simply dumped her anger and frustrations. The preface explains the decision to print the journals by her son, as a statement she made near her death - "you know where the journals are". That may just have well meant - please find them before someone else does. There are works in this genre that are important pieces of literature. In order to be important however, they should help us to understand, more deeply, the ouevre the author has left behind. There is no developmental narrative in these journals. I strongly believe one of the great women intellectuals of our times deserves much better.
Her tone was relentlessly caustic which made it difficult to feel any kind of empathy for Sontag.
I would not have published it. If they had not been Susan Sontags, and posthumous, I don't think they would have been.