Who is Susan Sontag ;give biography?

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  • 9 years ago
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    Susan Sontag (pronounced /ˈsɒntɑːɡ/; January 16, 1933 – December 28, 2004) was an American author, literary theorist, and political activist.

    Sontag, born Susan Rosenblatt, was born in New York City to Jack Rosenblatt and Mildred Jacobsen, both Jewish. Her father ran a fur trading business in China, where he died of tuberculosis when Susan was five years old. Seven years later, her mother married Nathan Sontag. Susan and her sister, Judith, were given their stepfather's surname, although he never formally adopted them.

    Sontag did not have a religious upbringing. She claimed to have not entered a synagogue until her mid twenties.[1]

    Sontag grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and, later, in Los Angeles, where she graduated from North Hollywood High School at the age of 15. She began her undergraduate studies at Berkeley but transferred to the University of Chicago in admiration of its famed core curriculum. At Chicago, she undertook studies in philosophy and literature alongside her other requirements (Leo Strauss, Richard McKeon and Kenneth Burke were among her lecturers) and graduated with an [Artium Baccalaureus] A.B.[2] She did graduate work in philosophy, literature, and theology at Harvard with Paul Tillich, Jacob Taubes and Morton White et al.[3] After completing her Master of Arts in philosophy and beginning doctoral work at Harvard, Sontag was awarded an American Association of University Women's fellowship for the 1957-1958 academic year to St Anne's College, Oxford, where she had classes with Iris Murdoch, J. L. Austin, Alfred Jules Ayer, Stuart Hampshire and others. Oxford did not appeal to her, however, and she transferred after Michaelmas term of 1957 to the University of Paris.[4] It was in Paris that Sontag socialised with expatriate artists and academics including Allan Bloom, Jean Wahl, Alfred Chester, Harriet Sohmers and Maria Irene Fornes.[5] Sontag remarked that her time in Paris was, perhaps, the most important period of her life.[6] It certainly provided the grounding for her long intellectual and artistic association with the culture of France.[7]

    At 17, while at Chicago, Sontag married Philip Rieff after a ten-day courtship. The philosopher Herbert Marcuse lived with Sontag and Rieff for a year while working on his book Eros and Civilization.[8] Sontag and Rieff were married for eight years throughout which they worked jointly on the study Freud: The Mind of the Moralist that would be attributed solely to Philip Rieff as a stipulation of the couple's divorce in 1958.[9] The couple had a son, David Rieff, who later became his mother's editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, as well as a writer in his own right.

    The publication of Against Interpretation (1966), accompanied by a striking dust-jacket photo by Peter Hujar, helped establish Sontag's reputation as "the Dark Lady of American Letters." Movie stars like Woody Allen, philosophers like Arthur Danto, and politicians like Mayor John Lindsay vied to know her.

    Grave of Susan Sontag

    In her prime, Sontag avoided all pigeonholes. Like Jane Fonda, she went to Hanoi, and wrote of the North Vietnamese society with much sympathy and appreciation (see "Trip to Hanoi" in Styles of Radical Will). She maintained a clear distinction, however, between North Vietnam and Maoist China and the Soviet Union, as well as East-European communism, which she all later attacked as "fascism with a human face."[10]

    Sontag died in New York City on 28 December 2004, aged 71, from complications of myelodysplastic syndrome which had evolved into acute myelogenous leukemia. Sontag is buried in Montparnasse Cemetery, in Paris.[11] Her final illness has been chronicled by her son, David Rieff.[12]

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