Sontag’s Reborn: Lauren Elkin Review

A convincing review from Lauren Elkin of Sontag’s Reborn. The Canetti (who I have not read) insight inspired me to order Auto-da-Fé.

In “Mind as Passion,” Sontag explores Canetti’s dedication to the writer Hermann Broch; what Canetti admires in Broch, Sontag writes, lay out what he most aspired to himself. These included “intellectual insatiety,” and a “fastidious . . . sense of the writer’s vocation.” In turn, we can read in Sontag’s admiration for Canetti the standards she has set out for herself. “Incapable of insipidity or satiety, Canetti advances the model of a mind always reacting, registering shocks and trying to outwit them.” She lauds the role of the notebook for Canetti, calling it “the perfect literary form for an eternal student. . . . The notebook holds that ideally impudent, efficient self that one constructs to deal with the world.”

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