At the Same Time by Susan Sontag - review by A C Grayling

A C Grayling

The Country of the Word

At the Same Time


Hamish Hamilton 256pp £18.99

Susan Sontag’s reputation stands high in both her homelands – the United States of America and the republic of letters. She was a writer of choice skills, she was absolutely sincere in her commitment to ideals of justice and right in politics and international affairs, and all her work is animated by a strong controlling intelligence that was forthright, clear, and committed. Every one of these qualities is fully present in her last collection of essays, even though – as her editors, and her son David Rieff in his personal preface, tell us – it is likely that if she had lived she would have wished to polish them further.

Sontag saw herself as a literary figure, and this expression embraces and explains the variety of her work: four novels, a play, books about photography and illness, and collections of essays. As a commentator on politics and human rights she saw herself as a representative of the country of the

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