Susan Sontag’s son, David Rieff, says he may never have published his mother’s journals had it been up to him. But Sontag left little of her legacy to chance. She sold her papers to U.C.L.A., and since her death, in 2004, Rieff has excavated and edited them: the diaries of a dead writer who stood, as long as she could, in willful refusal to die.
In “Reborn: Journals and Notebooks 1947-1963”—published in 2008, as the first of what will be three volumes—we saw a teen-age Sontag entering college, transferring between colleges, getting married, giving birth to a son, going to grad school, turning twenty, moving to Oxford, moving to Paris, becoming entangled with various women, and returning to New York, where she nothing like slowed down. In Rieff’s formulation, “Reborn” carried us to Sontag’s “vigorous, successful adulthood.” Continue reading