December 28, 2004 by

Susan Sontag


Categories: Hollywood, Media, Writers/Editors

ssontag.jpgSusan Sontag, an author and social critic, died on Dec. 28 from complications of acute myelogenous leukemia. She was 71.
Born Susan Rosenblatt in 1933, the New York native spent her early years in Tucson, Ariz., and Los Angeles. She skipped three grades and graduated from high school at 15. Although her mother warned that constant reading would keep men away, Sontag refused to heed this advice. The 17-year-old bibliophile was attending the University of Chicago when she sat in on a lecture by 28-year-old sociologist Philip Rieff. They were married 10 days later. The couple had a son, David, but divorced in the mid-1960s.
Sontag earned master’s degrees in English and philosophy from Harvard University, studied in England and France, then moved to New York City. In 1964, she launched a career as a professional writer when she published the essay “Notes on Camp” in the Partisan Review. Sontag followed that up with critical studies and essay collections on disease (“Illness as Metaphor & AIDS and Its Metaphors”), culture (“Where the Stress Falls”) and still pictures (“On Photography”).
Although “On Photography” received a National Book Critics Circle award in 1978, Sontag partially refuted her thesis (that photography had desensitized people from understanding true suffering) 25 years later in the essay collection, “Regarding the Pain of Others.” She also wrote the introduction to “Women,” a photography collection by her long-time companion Annie Leibovitz.
A self-described “obsessed moralist,” Sontag actively campaigned for human rights and social equality. In the early 1990s, she called for the international community to respond to the genocide occurring in Rwanda and Bosnia. Days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Sontag sparked much debate when she bashed U.S. foreign policy and commented on the courage of the hijackers. In an essay published in The New Yorker, she wrote: “

3 Responses to Susan Sontag

  1. David

    Why the extremely poor, virtually incomprehensible German? Is this intended as a sign of disrespect for the deceased? That would be very inappropriate for this site. Please either learn better German or stick to English (or whatever language it is that you actually speak).

  2. alex

    before there were memorials and awards
    there were the words
    before the words
    there was the woman
    bliss for she who blessed us with her words

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