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The Volcano Lover by Susan Sontag

Member Reviews

"Sontag weaves a picture of the time of the French Revolution that shows us some of the brutal reality of the lives of both rich and poor during that time. She explores personal culpability and innocence in times of war and hardship. She also makes certain aspects of war all too real. I shuddered all over while reading about the beheadings of the French revolution. Whew! Keep a dictionary close at hand to enrich your vocabulary."  ... Kelly

"Volcano Lover was a colorful look at changing times in Europe during times of change.  Characters are distinct and somewhat eccentric in both speech and actions.  These people were not your run of the mill nobility, sitting around waiting for life to happen.  The trips back and forth from England to Italy were very interesting.  I loved the descriptive language."  ... Michelle

"The Volcano Lover is a book to feed your intellect.  Susan Sontag presents her story with a rich and precise vocabulary.  Character descriptions are drawn with subtlety as she explores a time of great cultural change in Europe.  Her characters generally reflect the conventions of the time, but her unconventional characters are the most informing about the age.  The novel is set in Italy and England in the years preceding and during the French Revolution."  ... Jan

Suggested Readings for Susan Sontag


McCaffery, Larry, Editor. after yesterday's crash. New York: Penguin Books, 1995.

The introduction to this "avant-pop anthology" is the best thing to read in preparation for what promises to be a free-wheeling discussion about art and life.

Sontag, Susan. On Photography. New York: Anchor Books, 1977.

On Photography is Sontag's deeply thoughtful explanation about why it is necessary to really think about the act of photography, which is "a grammar and, even more importantly, an ethics of seeing" in an age when mere images--proportedly images of truth--claim more and more of our attention.

 In an interview for The New York Times Book Review, Ms. Sontag noted that she "can never take my own unhappiness really seriously because I think so much of how badly off most people in the world are." She insisted that she participated imaginatively in the horrors that are part of history. When asked if social morality can be so internalized, Sontag responded passionately that one doesn't choose such participation rationally. "You either are in touch with that imaginatively or you're not. It's not deciding--it's the other way around. I can't screen it out. I feel I'm receiving messages all the time. And sometimes I'm overwhelmed." Overwhelmed by what? "By suffering...I'm incredibly squeamish. I cannot watch most American movies. I don't even have a television