On Photography by Susan Sontag
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1977. First Edition. Hardcover. 207 pages ; 21 cm. $7.95 dust jacket. Pages are unmarked and binding is firm.
In this book, Susan Sontag examines a wide range of problems, both aesthetic and moral, raised by the presence and authority of the photographed image in the lives of everyone today. All societies we call "modern" have to be understood in terms of interchanges between reality and the image, and the most successful and influential systems of images in all history are those provided by the camera.
On Photography considers the relation of photography to art, to conscience, and to knowledge. The book is divided into six sections: "In Plato's Cave," "America, Seen Through Photographs, Darkly," "Melancholy Objects," "The Heroism of Vision," "Photographic Evangels," and "The Image-World." The author has appended "A Brief Anthology of Quotations," ranging from Elizabeth Barrett to Wallace Stevens, from Kafka to Agatha Christie. There are illuminating discussions of the work of such important photographers as Nadar, Muybridge, Stieglitz, Atget, Paul Stranded-ward Weston, August Sander, Walker Evans, Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, and others.
These highly acclaimed essays originally appeared in somewhat different form in The New York Review of Books, evoking a great volume of correspondence and response from readers. As Carlos Fuentes wrote of Against Interpretation and Styles of Radical Will, Susan Sontag's essays "are great interpretations, and even fulfillments, of what is really going on."
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