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Surveying Sontag's Legacy

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Influential intellectual and author Susan Sontag died today at 71. Steve Wasserman, Los Angeles Times Book Review Editor, published her obituary in today's issue of the Times.
The author of 17 books translated into 32 languages, she vaulted to public attention and critical acclaim with the 1964 publication of "Notes on Camp," written for Partisan Review and included in "Against Interpretation," her first collection of essays, published two years later. Sontag died at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City..."


Sontag wrote about subjects as diverse as pornography and photography, the aesthetics of silence and the aesthetics of fascism, Bunraku puppet theater and the choreography of Balanchine, as well as portraits of such writers and intellectuals as Antonin Artaud, Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes and Elias Canetti.

Sontag was a fervent believer in the capacity of art to delight, to inform, to transform.

We'd forgotten that Sontag was raised in Los Angeles.

"Sontag was born Jan. 16, 1933, in New York City and raised in Tucson and Los Angeles, the daughter of an alcoholic schoolteacher mother and a fur trader father who died in China of tuberculosis during the Japanese invasion when Sontag was 5. She was a graduate of North Hollywood High School and attended UC Berkeley and the University of Chicago — which she entered when she was 16 — and Harvard and Oxford."

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Her legacy will reside in Los Angeles as her papers — manuscripts, diaries, journals and correspondence — as well as her 25,000-volume personal library were acquired by the UCLA Library in 2002 and will be housed in the Charles E. Young Research Library Department of Special Collections.