Main content

Afterwords: Susan Sontag

A fragmentary look at the American writer Susan Sontag through her own words and those of her peers.

In our new series 'Afterwords', we explore the ideas of great writers in their own words - as archive recordings in which they articulate their approach interweave with the thoughts of contemporary writers, academics and activists.

Through the '60s and '70s up to her death in 2004, Susan Sontag was the embodiment of the fashionable, metropolitan, 'public intellectual'. Her writings on 'camp', on photography, on illness (she survived and then died from cancer at a time when the C word was almost taboo) and the suffering of others, together with her activism and her art, came to be shared with millions through the medium for which she had very little time as a viewer - television. And her radio interviews on the BBC and elsewhere cemented her reputation.

With contributions from her West Coast friend and scholar Terry Castle, the war correspondent Allan Little who got to know her well during the Siege of Sarajevo, the writer and broadcaster Lisa Appignanesi who achieved a rare intimacy in one interview for Night Waves, Andrew Bolton (curator of a forthcoming exhibition called 'Camp: Notes on Fashion' at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York), the journalist, critic and Sontag 'fan-boy' Boyd Tonkin and the writer Elif ┼×afak who continues to work in Sontag's long shadow, we take a close listen to the American writer and examine her legacy.

(Including archive from Studs Terkel Radio Archive, courtesy Chicago History Museum and WFMT Radio Network.)

Produced Alia Cassam and Alan Hall
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 3

Available now

44 minutes

Broadcast

Featured in...

Six Secret Smuggled Books

Six Secret Smuggled Books

Six classic works of literature we wouldn't have read if they hadn't been smuggled...

Grid

Grid

Seven images inspired by the grid

World Music collector, Sir David Attenborough

World Music collector, Sir David Attenborough

The field recordings Attenborough of music performances around the world.

Attenborough's field recordings

Attenborough's field recordings

The unlikely music performances captured while searching for exotic animals to film.