Susan Sontag’s speech online

by Yule Heibel on October 19, 2003

wood’s lot links, via The Literary Saloon, to The Guardian which yesterday published Susan Sontag’s acceptance speech for the peace prize of the German Book Trade, delivered at the Frankfurt Book Fair last week. [See my entry from October 12, too, for additional damning perspectives on Daniel Coats (not that he needs them, but he probably deserves them…)].

Sontag’s speech is amazing. The American press appears to be revealing its profound complicity with unfreedom and censorship by not reporting and debating her words.


Doug Alder October 19, 2003 at 9:08 pm

“Literature was freedom. Especially in a time in which the values of reading and inwardness are so strenuously challenged, literature is freedom.” Speaks volumes about present day America and the attack on education led by the neocons. No wonder the ambassador was unwilling to attend 😉

brian moffatt October 20, 2003 at 10:59 am

I’m naturally resistent to any sort of speechifying, but that’s a good one. Speaking to the power of narrative through a wonderful bit of narrative. Odd, though, I have to confess, I’ve never read anything by Susan Sontag other than some essays and critiques, which I’ve always found , I don’t know, bang on. Any recos on a starting point anybody? As well, I’m wondering Yule if you feel any sort of especial intellectual affinity with Susan Sontag, considering your mutual backgrounds. I ask because my reading of literature has always been more euro than american – I’m trying to rectify that – and I find I am always a little more satisfied – or I find more pleasure – in reading – broad strokes here – eurolit. This isn’t snobbishness. It just seems that being one generation removed from Europe might have something to do with that. I don’t know. Maybe it’s unimportant. Currently, though I’m neither French nor Italian, I’m somewhat smitten by works emanating from both. Just a thought.

Yule Heibel October 20, 2003 at 10:21 pm

Essays & critiques are good — Against Interpretation, or Styles of Radical Will, eg. — and for fiction, I really liked The Volcano Lover (she also wrote an intro to Tsypkin’s Summer in Baden-Baden; both the intro & the book were fantastic). I usually have to be dragged to fiction, don’t read nearly enough of it. As for mutual background, gee whiz, Brian, I’m flattered, but I could only wish to have anything mutual with Susan Sontag. Or even with Fritz Arnold, her German editor. No, alas. My closer kin might be Dorothy Allison (Bastard Out of Carolina), except that my family background isn’t as insane & drug ‘n alcohol riddled as hers, nor — aside from my parents’ own spectacular descent into poverty — as poverty-ridden. But it’s closer to Allison than to Sontag. It took me until I was 16 to realize that we were not working class, but merely petit bourgeois. Then it took me another decade or so to figure out what to do with that, and another big chunk of time to understand the individual class morphology in my family (upwardly mobile, but dragged down dramatically at various points in the ideologically terriby terribly fraught 20th century). Sontag, in part because it was expected of her, went to universities I didn’t even know existed when I was that age. I like her tremendously because she likes some of the same things I like, and I can only hope to get some of that clarity that she does. Most of the time, I’m just muddling through.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: