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On Women

por Susan Sontag

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782349,885 (3.36)3
"A new collection of Susan Sontag's essays about women, edited by David Rieff and introduced by Merve Emre"-- Susan Sontag was one of the most formidable, original, and influential thinkers of the last century. "The most interesting ideas are heresies," she remarked, and indeed, her writing rejects the familiar and refuses party lines. On Women presents seven essays and exchanges, spanning a range of subjects: the challenges and humiliations women face as they age; the relationship between women's liberation and class struggle; beauty, which Sontag calls "that over-rich brew of so many familiar opposites"; feminism; fascism; and film. Taken together, these pieces--relentlessly curious, historically precise, politically robust, and allergic to easy categorization Sontag's inimitable mind at work.… (mais)
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Susan Sontag has published several volumes of cultural essays. On women was posthumously published in 2023, collected and edited by her son, David Rieff. Not all pieces are essays, some are interviews, but some earlier publications also contained such critical interviews. I think it can be said that many of these pieces were not selected or published in earlier collections, because they are somewhat less well-written or express ideas somewhat more extremely or forcefully than in other essays. But Sontag is a great essayist and these eassays aren't second or third rate. Possible they are a subcategory of first rate.

The other reason these essays are somewhat less palatable is the fact they they appeal with vehemence to ideology which is now considered out of vogue. Particularly the second essay "The third world of women" is very leftist of a political colour and intensity which is now further from main stream than in the 1970s, when it was written (in 1973). However, it is the style and the intensity which make it feel dated, not the ideas expressed in these essays.

I experienced a feeling of deja vu with the essay "Fascinating Fascism". I could not make out whether I have read the same essay in an earlier collection of essays or whether this essay is a variant, based on the same material and expressing largely the same idea.

The most impressive essays is obviously the first in the collection, entitled "The double standard of aging". This is the typical style of Susan Sontag: a long essays of 40+ pages that explores every aspect of an issue into its minutest detail leading to a powerful conclusion: Men think less of women because they perceive them as essentially different from themselves.

So, while these essays may not be top of the bill, they are definitely still worth while reading, and in their "extremism" they help establish a better portrait of Susan Sontag to readers who have not known her other than through well-polished publications such as Penguin Modern Classics.

It is a pity that the simple and straightforward title of this collection, namely "On women" is a source of confusion. Many people confuse this collection of essays with an earlier book by Sontag together with Annie Leibovitz, which was a photo book, published in 1999. ( )
  edwinbcn | Feb 17, 2024 |
I mean, you've read it. ( )
  adaorhell | Sep 14, 2023 |
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"A new collection of Susan Sontag's essays about women, edited by David Rieff and introduced by Merve Emre"-- Susan Sontag was one of the most formidable, original, and influential thinkers of the last century. "The most interesting ideas are heresies," she remarked, and indeed, her writing rejects the familiar and refuses party lines. On Women presents seven essays and exchanges, spanning a range of subjects: the challenges and humiliations women face as they age; the relationship between women's liberation and class struggle; beauty, which Sontag calls "that over-rich brew of so many familiar opposites"; feminism; fascism; and film. Taken together, these pieces--relentlessly curious, historically precise, politically robust, and allergic to easy categorization Sontag's inimitable mind at work.

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