Books

As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh

Susan Sontag

As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh reveals the inner life of Susan Sontag.

Providing a unique insight into the mind of one of the leading intellectuals of the modern age, Susan Sontag's As Conscious is Harnessed to Flesh chronicles the cultural, moral, and political journeys of this renowned critic and artist at the height of her powers.

As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh follows Sontag through the turbulent years of the late 1960s - from her trip to Hanoi at the peak of the Vietnam War to her time making films in Sweden - up to 1980, just before the beginning of the Reagan era. This is an invaluable record of the inner workings of one of the most inquisitive and analytical thinkers of the twentieth century at the height of her power. It is also a remarkable document of on individual's political and moral awakening.

'More true to life, both intellectual and emotional, than the most artful novel or careful biography' Sunday Telegraph

'Gold dust' Sunday Times

'A powerful self-portrait emerges. In its fragmentation . . . and passion, its combination of the erudite and the everyday, it is more true to life, both intellectual and emotional, than the most artful novel or careful biography. It may well be that Sontag's diaries will come to be seen as just as brilliant and important as anything she wrote' Sunday Telegraph

'Mesmerising, fascinating' Guardian

'Express the fullness and diversity of her intellectual curiosity. Revelatory in the most profound sense: they are existential fragments, self-selected thoughts, emotions, reactions . . . arising in one of the most remarkable minds of the twentieth century' The Times

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.

Death Kit

Susan Sontag

First published in 1967, Death Kit is a classic of modern fiction. Blending realism and dream, Susan Sontag's second novel offers a passionate exploration of the recesses of the American conscience.

The novel is a narrative of the suffering of Dalton 'Diddy' Harron, told through his own observations. He works in advertising for a microscope manufacturer, is thirty-three and divorced and a month ago tried to commit suicide. The haphazard events of his life, including killing a railway worker and falling in love with a blind girl, are brought to us through the lens of Diddy's own mind. We follow him through his journey to justify his actions and exorcise his inner demons, but we can see what is happening to Diddy only from inside his head, in the present, and the balance of his mind does not always bear close scrutiny.

Reborn

Susan Sontag (and others)

Reborn is the compelling and frank early diary of Susan Sontag.

'Vivid, exhilarating, often moving . . . charts the development of a good writer and an important critic'Sunday Telegraph

'I intend to do everything . . . I shall anticipate pleasure everywhere and find it too, for it is everywhere! I shall involve myself wholly . . .everything matters!'

This first selection from Susan Sontag's diaries (from 1947-1963) takes us from early adolescence though to when Sontag was in her early thirties. It is an astonishingly affecting, honest self-portrait which is also a fascinating, revealing account of an artist and critic being born. We see Sontag honing her skills and fashioning herself, by a supreme act of will, into an intellectual force.

'Fascinating. One can feel Sontag's mind beginning to ripen and bloom, and the full force of the intellectual originality that would be her hallmark emerging' Guardian

'Inspirational. Sontag shows us not just the importance, but the exhilaration of being earnest' New Statesman

'A fascinating document of her apprenticeship, charting her earnest quest for education, identity, and voice. Reborn is overwhelmingly a record of an inner landscape' New York Review of Books

'One of the finest American writers, thinkers, and political activists of the past four decades . . . an intimate portrait of her early life' Independent on Sunday

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.

Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors

Susan Sontag

Sontag wrote Illness as Metaphor in 1978, while suffering from breast cancer herself. In her study she reveals that the metaphors and myths surrounding certain illnesses, especially cancer, add greatly to the suffering of the patients and often inhibit them from seeking proper treatment. By demystifying the fantasies surrounding cancer, Sontag shows cancer for what it is - a disease; not a curse, not a punishment, certainly not an embarrassment, and highly curable, if good treatment is found early enough. Almost a decade later, with the outbreak of a new, stigmatized disease replete with mystifications and punitive metaphors, Sontag wrote Aids and Its Metaphors, extending the argument of the earlier book to the AIDS pandemic.

The Benefactor

Susan Sontag

The Benefactor is Susan Sontag's first book and first novel. It was originally published in 1963, and introduced a unique writer to the world. In the form of a memoir by a latter-day Candide named Hippolyte, The Benefactor leads us on a kind of psychic Grand Tour, in which Hippolyte's violently imaginative dream life becomes indistinguishable from his surprising experiences in the 'real world'.

Under the Sign of Saturn

Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag's third essay collection brings together her most important critical writing from 1972 to 1980. In these provocative and hugely influential works she explores some of the most controversial artists and thinkers of our time, including her now-famous polemic against Hitler's favourite film-maker, Leni Riefenstahl, and the cult of fascist art, as well as a dazzling analysis of Hans-Jürgen Syberberg's Hitler, a Film from Germany. There are also highly personal and powerful explorations of death, art, language, history, the imagination and writing itself.

Where the Stress Falls

Susan Sontag

Where the Stress Falls is divided into three sections: the first, 'Reading', includes ardent pieces on writers from Sontag's own private canon - Machado de Assis, Barthes, W. G. Sebald, Borges, Tsvetaeva and Elizabeth Hardwick. In the second, 'Seeing', she shares her passions for film, dance, photography, painting, opera and theatre. And in the final section, 'There and Here', Sontag explores her own commitments to the work (and activism) of conscience and to the vocation of the writer.

Against Interpretation and Other Essays

Susan Sontag

A series of provocative discussions on everything from individual authors to contemporary religious thinking, Against Interpretation and Other Essays is the definitive collection of Susan Sontag's best known and important works published in Penguin Modern Classics.

Against Interpretation was Susan Sontag's first collection of essays and made her name as one of the most incisive thinkers of our time. Sontag was among the first critics to write about the intersection between 'high' and 'low' art forms, and to give them equal value as valid topics, shown here in her epoch-making pieces 'Notes on Camp' and 'Against Interpretation'. Here too are impassioned discussions of Sartre, Camus, Simone Weil, Godard, Beckett, Lévi-Strauss, science-fiction movies, psychoanalysis and contemporary religious thought. Originally published in 1966, this collection has never gone out of print and has been a major influence on generations of readers, and the field of cultural criticism, ever since.

Susan Sontag (1933-2004) was born in Manhattan and studied at the universities of Chicago, Harvard and Oxford. She is the author of four novels - The Benefactor, Death Kit, The Volcano Lover and In America, which won the 2000 US National Book Award for fiction - a collection of stories, several plays, and six books of essays, among them Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors. 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.

If you enjoyed Against Interpretation and Other Essays, you might like Sontag's On Photography, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'A dazzling intellectual performance'
Vogue

'Sontag offers enough food for thought to satisfy the most intellectual of appetites'
The Times

In America

Susan Sontag

The story of In America is inspired by the emigration to America in 1876 of Helena Modrzejewska, Poland's most celebrated actress, accompanied by her husband, Count Karol Chlapowski, her fifteen-year-old son, Rudolf, the young journalist and future author of Quo Vadis, Henryk Sienkiewicz, and a few friends; their brief sojourn in Anaheim, California; and Modrzejewska's subsequent triumphant career on the American stage under the name Helena Modjeska.

Styles of Radical Will

Susan Sontag

This collection of essays contains some of the most important pieces of criticism of the twentieth century, including the classics 'The Aesthetics of Silence', a brilliant account of language, thought and consciousness, and 'Trip to Hanoi', written during the Vietnam War. Here too is an excoriating account of America's identity and future, a robust and surprising discussion of pornography and other richly rewarding writings on art, film, literature and politics.

The Volcano Lover

Susan Sontag

A historical romance, Sontag's book is based on the lives of Sir William Hamilton, his wife, Emma, and Lord Nelson in the final decades of the eighteenth century. Passionately examining the shape of Western civilization since the Age of Enlightenment, Sontag's novel is an exquisitely detailed picture of revolution, the fate of nature, art and love.

The Medium is the Massage

Bruno Munari (and others)

In a dazzling fusion of Quentin Fiore's bold and inventive graphic design and Marshall McLuhan's unique insight into technology, advertising and mass-media, The Medium is the Massage is a unique study of human communication in the twentieth century, published in Penguin Modern Classics

Marshall McLuhan is the man who predicted the all-pervasive rise of modern mass media. Blending text, image and photography, his 1960 classic The Medium is the Massage illustrates how the growth of technology utterly reshapes society, personal lives and sensory perceptions, so that we are effectively transformed by the means we use to communicate. His theories, many of which are illustrated in this astonishing 'inventory of effects', force us to question how modes of communication have shaped society. This concept, and his ideas such as rolling, up-to-the-minute news broadcasts and the media 'Global Village' have proved decades ahead of their time.

How do we see the world around us? The 'Penguin on Design' series includes the works of creative thinkers whose writings on art, design and the media have changed our vision forever.

Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) was a Canadian educator, philosopher and scholar - a professor of English Literature, a literary critic and a communications theorist. McLuhan's work is viewed as one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory. Among his other works are The Mechanical Bride (1951), The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962) and Understanding Media (1964).

Quentin Fiore (b. 1920) is a graphic designer renowned for his collaborations with writers including the academic Marshall McLuhan and the futurist and engineer Buckminster Fuller.

If you enjoyed The Medium is the Massage, you might like Bruno Munari's Design as Art, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'The media prophet of the 1960s'
The New York Times

'In the tumult of the digital revolution, McLuhan is relevant anew'
Wired

On Photography

Susan Sontag

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.

At the Same Time

Susan Sontag (and others)

At the Same Time contains sixteen illuminating essays by Susan Sontag.

With a preface by David Rieff.

The sixteen essays gathered here represent the last pieces written by Susan Sontag in the years before her ddath in 2004. Reflecting on literature, photography and art, post 9/11 America and political activism, these essays encompass the themes that dominated Sontag's life and work, revealing why she remains one of the twentieth century's preeminent writers and thinkers.

'These sixteen pieces brim over with vitality . . . every one of them opening up fresh lines of thought' John Gray, New Statesman

'One of America's greatest public intellectuals' Observer

'Excellent and essential' Financial Times

'Reads like a greatest-hits album - a little politics, something on photography, some lit. crit. - of Sontag's passions' Daily Telegraph

'Sontag's clear thinking . . . shines like a spotlight in dark places' The Times

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.

Summer in Baden-Baden

Leonid Tsypkin (and others)

One bitterly cold winter in the 1970s, Leonid Tsypkin's obsession with Dostoyevsky leads him to Leningrad by train, so that he can see for himself where his hero died. As the train makes its way across Russia, a journal inspires Tsypkin to conjure up the summer of 1867, when Dosteyevsky and his young wife Anna travelled across Europe to Baden-Baden. The destructive demons that beset Dostoyevsky in his later life were in full force at this time, and man and wife battled for their very souls. Yet in Tsypkin's hands this elegy to the great Russian writer becomes a glorious and unforgettable love story.

Regarding the Pain of Others

Susan Sontag

Regarding the Pain of Others is Susan Sontag's searing analysis of our numbed response to images of horror.

From Goya's Disasters of War to news footage and photographs of the conflicts in Vietnam, Rwanda and Bosnia, pictures have been charged with inspiring dissent, fostering violence or instilling apathy in us, the viewer. Regarding the Pain of Others will alter our thinking not only about the uses and meanings of images, but about the nature of war, the limits of sympathy, and the obligations of conscience.

'Powerful, fascinating. Sontag is our outstanding contemporary writer in the moralist tradition' Sunday Times

'A coruscating sermon on how we picture suffering' The New York Times

'A far-reaching set of ruminations on human suffering, the nature of goodness, the lures, deceptions and truth of images . . . in short, a summary of what it means to be alive and alert in the twentieth century' Independent

'Sontag is on top form: firing devastating questions' Los Angeles Times

'Simple, elegant, fiercely persuasive' Metro

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.

On Photography

Susan Sontag

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.

Biography

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.