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Susan Sontag's On Photography is a seminal and groundbreaking work on the subject. Susan Sontag's groundbreaking critique of photography asks forceful questions about the moral and aesthetic issues surrounding this art form. Photographs are everywhere, and the 'insatiability of the photographing eye' has profoundly altered our relationship with the world. Photographs have the power to shock, idealize or seduce, they create a sense of nostalgia and act as a memorial, and they can be used as evidence against us or to identify us. In these six incisive essays, Sontag examines the ways in which we use these omnipresent images to manufacture a sense of reality and authority in our lives. 'Sontag offers enough food for thought to satisfy the most intellectual of appetites' The Times 'A brilliant analysis of the profound changes photographic images have made in our way of looking at the world, and at ourselves' Washington Post 'The most original and illuminating study of the subject' New Yorker One of America's best-known and most admired writers, Susan Sontag was also a leading commentator on contemporary culture until her death in December 2004. Her books include four novels and numerous works of non-fiction, among them Regarding the Pain of Others, On Photography, Illness as Metaphor, At the Same Time, Against Interpretation and Other Essays and Reborn: Early Diaries 1947-1963, all of which are published by Penguin. A further eight books, including the collections of essays Under the Sign of Saturn and Where the Stress Falls, and the novels The Volcano Lover and The Benefactor, are available from Penguin Modern Classics.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780140053975
ISBN-10: 0140053972
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 14mm)
Pages: 224
Imprint: Penguin Books Ltd
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 27-Sep-1979
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » Susan Sontag has returned photography to the cockpit of discussion it occupied when the exact mechanical image loomed as a threat to the person, to art, to the very relationship between images and reality. The last, essentially, is Sontag's subject, approached - after a splatter of (as yet) unsupported assertions - via touchstone figures: writers, photographers, painters interchangeably. (The book has no illustrations; it assumes, reasonably enough, a common stock of photographic images.) In a vivid, close-set argument, she traces Whitman's theme, "the levelling of distinctions between the beautiful and the ugly, the important and the trivial," through Lewis Hine and Walker Evans to its "last sigh," the 1955 Family of Man exhibit, apex of "sentimental humanism" - and jumps to the toast of 1972, Diane Arbus, in whose world "everybody is an allen." But levelling down, Arbus-like, is also "lowering the threshhold of what is terrible," as much modern art does, as Surrealism does systematically: "all subjects are merely objets trouves." So we are confronted with photography, reputedly realistic, as the art "that has best shown how to juxtapose the sewing machine and the umbrella," and with the photographer as "the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes." Beauty falls, morality falls, as a standard; "photographic seeing" is the criterion, following "the idea that everything in the world could be made interesting through the camera." So photographs become - Sontag adduces a misconstruction of Proust's - "not so much an instrument of memory as an invention or replacement." Images, that is. Dismemberments of reality. The Chinese want only complete, correct views, Sontag observes in a stunning windup. For them, a "good" picture; for us, a good picture. With an anthology of quotations (also shards of reality) from the unlikes of Daguerre, Man Ray, and a 1976 Minolta ad for further agitation. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag was born in Manhattan in 1933 and studied at the universities of Chicago, Harvard and Oxford. Her non-fiction works include Against Interpretation, On Photography, Illness as Metaphor, AIDS and its Metaphors and Regarding the Pain of Others. She is also the author of four novels, a collection of stories and several plays. Her books are translated into thirty-two languages. In 2001 she was awarded the Jerusalem Prize for the body of her work, and in 2003 she received the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. She died in December 2004. Penguin will publish Sontag on Film in October 2016.

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