A Woman with a Plan

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Susan Sontag: A BiographySusan Sontag:  A Biography
by Daniel Schreiber
Translated by David Dollenmayer
Northwestern University Press.  280 pages, $35.

 

SUSAN SONTAG (1933-2004) has been described as one of America’s first “celebrity intellectuals”—as well as one of its last ones. Because she packed so much into her 71 years, no biography has yet been written that can really do her justice. Daniel Schreiber, a Berlin-based journalist and critic, originally published this biography in Germany in 2007 as Susan Sontag: Geist und Glamour. Translated from the German by David Dollenmayer as Susan Sontag: A Biography, the book is for the most part an engaging and fascinating life story, though it suffers from some inelegant phrasing and unnecessary over-explaining for an American audience.

Schreiber’s book is in fairly equal parts a straightforward biography, a critical analysis of some of Sontag’s novels and collected works (particularly On Photography, 1977, and Against Interpretation and Other Essays, 1967), and

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