Sunday, March 24, 2019

Susan Sontag from “Literature and Freedom”

One task of literature is to formulate questions and construct counterstatements to the reigning pieties. And even when art is not oppositional, the arts gravitate toward contrariness. Literature is dialogue; responsiveness. Literature might be described as the history of human responsiveness to what is alive and what is moribund as cultures evolve and interact with one another.

Writers can do something to combat the clichés of our separateness, our difference - for writers are makers, not just transmitters, of myths. Literature offers not only myths but countermyths, just as life offers counterexperiences - experiences that confound what you thought you thought, or felt, or believed.


“Literature and Freedom” was Susan Sontag’s acceptance speech after being awarded the Friedenspreis, the Peace Prize of the German book trade, in 2003.

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