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Realism and Its Vicissitudes

Essays in Honor of Sandy Petrey

Edited By Robert Harvey and Patrice Nganang

This collection honors the career of Donald «Sandy» Petrey, Professor of Comparative Literature at the State University of New York at Stony Brook for over forty years. The diversity of essays – written by colleagues, friends, and former students, and ranging in subject from the traditional Festschrift theme of the honoree’s compelling contributions to the study of realism and the novel’s role in history, to chapters on Susan Sontag’s experimental films, the thought of the late Marxist philosopher André Gorz, silence in the graphic novel, and linguistic disparities between American and Standard Italian – attests to the plasticity of Sandy Petrey’s mind and the ample indications of his work. Best-known (and well-loved) for his often gruff, no-nonsense style in teaching and prose, Petrey is celebrated by those whose careers and ideas he has helped to nurture, inform, and embolden. This collection is a fine text for courses in nineteenth-century as well as contemporary French studies and literature.
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7. Sontag Between America and Europe

The Making of a European Intellectual in Reborn (1947–1963)

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E. ANN KAPLAN

“Absolute Subjectivity is achieved only in a state, an effort of silence (Shutting your eyes is to make the image speak in silence).”

—Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida

Susan Sontag is usually represented as the proto-type of the American Public Intellectual who happens to be a woman. Because of her particular style and way of being, and because she did not publically, enthusiastically and immediately embrace the feminisms emerging along with her development as a Public Intellectual, she was not seen as an example of women advancing into male spheres. But what has been insufficiently addressed in analyzing Sontag’s contributions is the full impact on her thought of her love of Europe, and her close ties to European (especially French) intellectuals. Perhaps because so many American intellectuals of her era were also influenced by, and attracted to, Europe, Sontag’s special relationship to Paris was not seen as noteworthy. But it may also be because the works that most embody her European side were films rather than literature. She both wrote with fascination about European Cinema (see her early brilliant essays in Against Interpretation), and under the influence of this cinema, turned to directing films.1 Two of Sontag’s films—her only feature films—were made in Sweden; a little known TV fiction film was made in Venice, while her final and fourth film, a powerful documentary, was made in Israel. Since Sontag’s foray into visual culture has attracted far less notice...

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