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At the Movies

Michael Wood: Bergman and Antonioni, 20 September 2007

... on the bandwagon now, and it wasn’t much of a bandwagon to start with. If cinephilia is dead, as Susan Sontag some time ago suggested it was, who cares about the simultaneous death of two cinéastes? Still, no reader of signs can resist a coincidence, the image of a meaning that can’t be there. Michelangelo Antonioni (born 1912) and Ingmar Bergman ...

At the Jeu de Paume

Brian Dillon: Peter Hujar, 19 December 2019

... photographs with portraits of Burroughs, Thek, John Ashbery, Divine, John Waters and others. Susan Sontag, whose reclining portrait is there too, wrote a preface for the book from her hospital bed, the night before her first surgery for breast cancer. They fell out after Sontag published On Photography the ...

A Likely Story

Frank Kermode, 25 January 1996

Howard Hodgkin: Paintings 
by Michael Auping, John Elderfield and Susan Sontag, edited by Marla Price.
Thames and Hudson, 216 pp., £28, October 1995, 0 500 09256 7
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Howard Hodgkin 
by Andrew Graham-Dixon.
Thames and Hudson, 192 pp., £24.95, October 1994, 0 500 27769 9
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... in view of the sheer difficulty of finding anything really susceptible to being written about. As Susan Sontag remarks, ‘the thoughtful – as distinct from the inarticulate – may have good reason to be wary, anxious, at a loss (for words).’ She endorses Valéry’s obiter dicta, ‘One must always apologise for talking about painting,’ and: ‘A ...

Not Enough Delilahs

Andrew O’Hagan: Lillian Ross, 4 July 2019

Picture 
by Lillian Ross.
NYRB, 219 pp., £14.99, June 2019, 978 1 68137 315 7
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... each name:Gloria Steinem – phoneyJanet Malcolm – pretentiousRenata Adler – crackpotSusan Sontag – nobodyNora Ephron – liarOther hand:Kenneth Tynan – creepTruman Capote – leechGeorge Plimpton – slickTom Wolfe – talentlessPhilip Roth – jerkIt was a mercy she only had two hands. To be fair, there were some men she liked. They tended to be ...

Pen Men

Elaine Showalter, 20 March 1986

Men and Feminism in Modern Literature 
by Declan Kiberd.
Macmillan, 250 pp., £13.95, September 1985, 0 333 38353 2
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Women Writing about Men 
by Jane Miller.
Virago, 256 pp., £10.95, January 1986, 0 86068 473 3
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Phallic Critiques: Masculinity and 20th-century Literature 
by Peter Schwenger.
Routledge, 172 pp., £29.50, September 1985, 0 7102 0164 8
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... women writers.’ Furthermore, he told a large audience, ‘there are not that many women, like Susan Sontag, who are intellectuals first, poets and novelists second.’ Since ‘more men ... are deeply interested in intellectual matters than women,’ he concluded, to have invited more women simply for the sake of fairness would have meant ‘lowering ...

The Meaninglessness of Meaning

Michael Wood, 9 October 1986

The Grain of the Voice: Interviews 1962-1980 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Linda Coverdale.
Cape, 368 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 224 02302 0
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Writing Degree Zero and Elements of Semiology 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Annette Lavers and Colin Smith.
Cape, 172 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 224 02267 9
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The Fashion System 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Matthew Ward and Richard Howard.
Cape, 303 pp., £15, March 1985, 0 224 02984 3
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The Responsibility of Forms: Critical Essays on Music, Art and Representation 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Richard Howard.
Blackwell, 312 pp., £19.50, January 1986, 0 631 14746 2
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The Rustle of Language 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Richard Howard.
Blackwell, 373 pp., £27.50, May 1986, 0 631 14864 7
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A Barthes Reader 
edited by Susan Sontag.
Cape, 495 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 224 02946 0
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Barthes: Selected Writings 
edited by Susan Sontag.
Fontana, 495 pp., £4.95, August 1983, 0 00 636645 7
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Roland Barthes: A Conservative Estimate 
by Philip Thody.
University of Chicago Press, 203 pp., £6.75, February 1984, 0 226 79513 6
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Roland Barthes: Structuralism and After 
by Annette Lavers.
Methuen, 300 pp., £16.95, September 1982, 0 416 72380 2
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Barthes 
by Jonathan Culler.
Fontana, 128 pp., £1.95, February 1983, 0 00 635974 4
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... And he became a writer in another sense, converted writing –‘his one great subject’, as Susan Sontag says – into his central practice, an embodiment or evocation of his concerns rather than a description of them. He stopped, as he said, writing on subjects – ‘It is that “on” which bothers me’ – even on the subject of writing. His ...

At the Hayward

Brian Dillon: ‘Invisible’, 2 August 2012

... silence one keeps.’ They are all, it turns out, a little different, and none of them pure or (as Susan Sontag put it) raw. Among the artists in Invisible perhaps Andy Warhol, already a walking void of sorts, gets closest. In 1985, at the Area nightclub in New York, he stood briefly on a white plinth and then was photographed beside the ‘invisible ...

Spying on Writers

Christian Lorentzen, 11 October 2018

... woman with a crew-like haircut, masculine voice and a marvellous mind.’ An investigation into Susan Sontag conducted at Hoover’s request went on for four years and yielded little beyond Sontag’s résumé, her travels (most of which resulted in published articles), and a record of her anti-war activities, which ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Howard Hodgkin, 6 July 2006

... 17 September) there are writings, culled from various sources, by Julian Barnes, James Fenton, Susan Sontag, William Boyd, Bruce Chatwin, Bruce Bernard and Colm Tóibín (Barnes has also made a loan to the exhibition). Some are affectionately biographical. Comparisons between Hodgkin’s art of memory and Proust’s are made.* The pleasure the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Muriel’, 11 August 2016

Muriel 
directed by Alain Resnais.
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... war, trauma, damage, memory, lost love. But we shouldn’t do this too simply or too directly. Susan Sontag was right to say that Muriel, like the other films, does ‘not go to the end, either of the idea or the emotion which inspires them’; but not going to end, in this case, seems to be just the meticulously studied point. There is no end, and ...

Among the Writers

Joanna Biggs: In Beijing, 10 May 2012

... had been jailed for two weeks in 2000 for the ‘illegal publication’ of the journal Tendency. Susan Sontag, whom Bei had published, wrote about what happened in the New York Times, and a threatened ten-year sentence became exile. GAPP said that they would boycott the fair if Bei and other dissidents participated, and so they were uninvited. Bei spoke ...

The Same Old Solotaire

Peter Wollen, 4 July 1996

‘Salome’ and ‘Under the Hill’ 
by Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley.
Creation, 123 pp., £7.95, April 1996, 1 871592 12 7
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Aubrey Beardsley: Dandy of the Grotesque 
by Chris Snodgrass.
Oxford, 338 pp., £35, August 1995, 0 19 509062 4
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... expert masturbation of her pet unicorn with the crook of her elbow. In her Notes on ‘Camp’ Susan Sontag might almost have substituted ‘Beardsley’ for ‘camp’ wherever the term occurs: Beardsley is a certain mode of aestheticism ... Beardsley’s art is often decorative art, emphasising texture, sensuous surface and style at the expense of ...

Fyodor, Anna, Leonid

Dan Jacobson: Leonid Tsypkin, 9 May 2002

Summer in Baden-Baden 
by Leonid Tsypkin, translated by Roger Keys and Angela Keys.
New Directions, 146 pp., $23.95, November 2001, 0 8112 1484 2
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... book – which is not to be confused with the stories told in the book? In her introduction to it, Susan Sontag passes on the information about the author which she has gleaned from his son and daughter-in-law, who now live in California. The facts are at once painful and inspiriting. Born in 1926 of Russian Jewish parents who had both been ...

Literary Friction

Jenny Turner: Kathy Acker’s Ashes, 19 October 2017

After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography 
by Chris Kraus.
Allen Lane, 352 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 1 63590 006 4
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... body.’ Had she not read Illness as Metaphor, the great work of her fellow New York intellectual Susan Sontag? Reclaiming the meaning of one’s own life is one thing, but seeking succour in sympathetic magic is another. Was it perhaps that Acker had already used cancer so much as a metaphor in her writing that when she came to confront it as a material ...

Under the Ustasha

Mark Mazower: Sarajevo, 1941-45, 6 October 2011

Sarajevo, 1941-45: Muslims, Christians and Jews in Hitler’s Europe 
by Emily Greble.
Cornell, 276 pp., £21.50, February 2011, 978 0 8014 4921 5
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... That the Serbs were not heroic defenders of Christian values but plotters of ethnic cleansing. Susan Sontag and Bernard-Henri Lévy felt it their duty to visit Sarajevo and publicise its plight. It was, as Sontag put it, the Spanish Civil War for her generation. Was this version any closer to reality than ...

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