"I intend to do everything...to have one way of evaluating experience—does it cause me pleasure or pain, and I shall be very cautious about rejecting the painful—I shall anticipate pleasure everywhere and find it too, for it is everywhere! I shall involve myself wholly...everything matters!" So wrote Susan Sontag in May 1949 at the age of sixteen. This, the first of three volumes of her journals and notebooks, presents a constantly and utterly surprising record of a great mind in incubation. It begins with journal entries and early attempts at fiction from her years as a university and graduate student, and ends in 1964, when she was becoming a participant in and observer of the artistic and intellectual life of New York City. Reborn is a kaleidoscopic self-portrait of one of America’s greatest writers and intellectuals, teeming with Sontag’s voracious curiosity and appetite for life. We watch the young Sontag’s complex self-awareness, share in her encounters with the writers who informed her thinking, and engage with the profound challenge of writing itself—all filtered through the inimitable detail of everyday circumstance.
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Susan Sontag immediately became a major figure of our culture with the publication in 1966 of the pathbreaking collection of essays Against Interpretation. She went on to write four novels, a collection of stories, several plays, and seven works of nonfiction, among them On Photography (1977) and Illness as Metaphor (1978). Her many international honors included the Jerusalem Prize (2000) and the Friedenspreis (Peace Prize) of the German Book Trade (2003). She died in New York City on December 28, 2004.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
I believe: (a)That there is no personal god or life after death (b)That the most desirable thing in the world is freedom to be true to oneself, i.e., Honesty (c)That the only difference between human beings is intelligence (d)That the only criterion of an action is its ultimate effect on making the individual happy or unhappy (e)That it is wrong to deprive any man of life [ Entries "f" and "g" are missing.] (h)I believe, furthermore, that an ideal state (besides "g") should be a strong centralized one with government control of public utilities, banks, mines, + transportation and subsidy of the arts, a comfortable minimum wage, support of disabled and age[d]. State care of pregnant women with no distinction such as legitimate + illegitimate children. Preface copyright © 2008 by David Rieff
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