9780312422196

Regarding the Pain of Others

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780312422196

  • ISBN10:

    0312422199

  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2004-02-01
  • Publisher: Picador

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Summary

Twenty-five years after her classicOn Photography, Susan Sontag returns to the subject of visual representations of war and violence in our culture today. How does the spectacle of the sufferings of others (via television or newsprint) affect us? Are viewers inured--or incited--to violence by the depiction of cruelty?In Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag takes a fresh look at the representation of atrocity--from Goya's The Disasters of War to photographs of the American Civil War, lynchings of blacks in the South, and the Nazi death camps, to contemporary horrific images of Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Israel and Palestine, and New York City on September 11, 2001. InRegarding the Pain of OthersSusan Sontag once again changes the way we think about the uses and meanings of images in our world, and offers an important reflection about how war itself is waged (and understood) in our time. Susan Sontagbecame a cultural figure upon the publication of her pathbreaking collection of essaysAgainst Interpretationin 1966. She went on to write four novels, includingIn America, which won the National Book Award for Fiction, as well as a collection of stories, several plays, and seven subsequent works of nonfiction, among themOn Photography,Illness as Metaphor, andRegarding the Pain of Others. Her many international honors included the Jerusalem Prize in 2001 and the Friedenspreis (Peace Prize) of the German Book Trade in 2003. She died in New York City on December 28, 2004. National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee ANew York TimesNotable Book ALos Angeles TimesBest Book ASan Francisco ChronicleBest Book One of the distinguishing features of modern life is that it supplies countless opportunities for regarding (at a distance, through the medium of photography) horrors taking place throughout the world. Images of atrocities have become, via the little screens of the television and the computer, something of a commonplace. But are viewers inuredor incitedto violence by the depiction of cruelty? Is the viewer's perception of reality eroded by the daily barrage of such images? What does it mean to care about the sufferings of people in faraway zones of conflict? Susan Sontag's now classic bookOn Photographydefined the terms of this debate twenty-five years ago. Her new book is a profound rethinking of the intersection of "news," art, and understanding in the contemporary depiction of war and disaster. She makes a fresh appraisal of the arguments about how pictures can inspire dissent, foster violence, or create apathy, evoking a long history of the representation of the pain of othersfrom Goya'sThe Disasters of Warto photographic documents of the American Civil War, lynchings of blacks in the South, the First World War, the Spanish Civil War, the Nazi death camps, and contemporary images from Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Israel, and Palestine, and New York City on September 11, 2001. This is also a book about how war itself is waged (and understood) in our time, replete with vivid historical examples and a variety of arguments advanced from some unexpected literary sources. Plato, Leonardo da Vinci, Edmund Burke, Wordsworth, Baudelaire, and Virginia Woolf all figure in this passionate reflection in the modern understanding of violence and atrocity. It includes as well a stinging attack on the provincialism of media pundits who denigrate the reality of war, and a political understanding of conflict, with glib talk about a new, worldwide "society of spectacle." Just asOn Photographychallenged how we understand the very condition of being modern,Regarding the Pain of Otherswill alter our thinking not only about the uses and meaning of images, but about the nature o

Author Biography

Susan Sontag is the author of four novels, The Benefactor, Death Kit, The Volcano Lover, and In America, which won the 2000 National Book Award for fiction; a collection of stories, I, etcetera; several plays, including Alice in Bed; and five works of nonfiction, among them Against Interpretation and On Photography, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. Her books are translated into thirty-two languages. In 2001, she was awarded the Jerusalem Prize for the body of her work, and she received the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature in 2003.

Table of Contents

"Wise and somber. . .Sontag's closing words acknowledge that there are realities which no picture can convey." --Los Angeles Times Book Review

"The history of sensibility in a culture shaped by the mechanical reproduction of imagery....has always been one of the guiding preoccupations of her best work, from Against Interpretation to The Volcano Lover....Regarding the Pain of Others invites, and rewards, more than one reading." --Newsday

"For 30 years, Susan Sontag has been challenging an entire generation to think about the things that frighten us most: war, disease, death. Her books illuminate without simplifying, complicate without obfuscating, and insist above all that to ignore what threatens us is both irresponsible and dangerous." --O, The Oprah Magazine

"A timely meditation on politics and ethics. . .extraordinary . . .Sontag's insight and erudition are profound." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Regarding the Pain of Others bristles with a sense of commitment--to seeing the world as it is, to worrying about the ways it is represented, even to making some gesture in the direction of changing it. . .the performance is thrilling to witness." --The New York Times Magazine

"A fiercely challenging book. . .immensely thought-provoking." --The Christian Science Monitor

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