Susan Sontag, one of America’s most influential intellectuals, internationally renowned for the passionate engagement and breadth of her critical intelligence and her ardent activism in the cause of human rights, died today of leukemia. She was 71.
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.
"A novel worth reading," she replied, "is an education of the heart. It enlarges your sense of human possibility, of what human nature is, of what happens in the world. It’s a creator of inwardness." She was the cartographer of her own literary explorations. Henry James once remarked, "Nothing is my last word on anything." For Sontag, as for James, there was always more to be said, more to be felt.
She is survived by her son, David, and a sister, Judith Cohen.