Where the Stress Falls

Overview

Susan Sontag has said that her earliest idea of what a writer should be was "someone who is interested in everything." Thirty-five years after her first collection of essays, the now classic Against Interpretation, our most important essayist has chosen more than forty longer and shorter pieces from the last two decades that illustrate a deeply felt, kaleidoscopic array of interests, passions, observations, and ideas.

"Reading" offers ardent, freewheeling considerations of talismanic writers from her own private ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (5) from $13.63   
  • New (4) from $13.63   
  • Used (1) from $23.84   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$13.63
Seller since 2008

Feedback rating:

(4710)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
New Book. Shipped from UK within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000.

Ships from: Horcott Rd, Fairford, United Kingdom

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
$16.24
Seller since 2015

Feedback rating:

(21)

Condition: New
BRAND NEW. Orders dispatched typically within 2 business days via a TRACKABLE PRIORITY SERVICE. Delivery usually takes 2-4 working days.

Ships from: Sunrise, FL

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
$43.08
Seller since 2011

Feedback rating:

(9)

Condition: New
2009 Paperback New Book New and in stock. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you will be able ... to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

Ships from: Morden, United Kingdom

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
$45.10
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(15)

Condition: New
2009 PAPERBACK New 0141190213 ADULT PBS (19/06/2009) Weight: 269g. / 0.59 lbs Binding: Unknown. Great Customer Service! *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an ... authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

Ships from: La Rochelle, France

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
Sending request ...

Overview

Susan Sontag has said that her earliest idea of what a writer should be was "someone who is interested in everything." Thirty-five years after her first collection of essays, the now classic Against Interpretation, our most important essayist has chosen more than forty longer and shorter pieces from the last two decades that illustrate a deeply felt, kaleidoscopic array of interests, passions, observations, and ideas.

"Reading" offers ardent, freewheeling considerations of talismanic writers from her own private canon, such as Marina Tsvetaeva, Randall Jarrell, Roland Barthes, Machado de Assis, W. G. Sebald, Borges, and Elizabeth Hardwick. "Seeing" is a series of luminous and incisive encounters with film, dance, photography, painting, opera, and theatre. And in the final section, "There and Here," Sontag explores some of her own commitments: to the work (and activism) of conscience, to the concreteness of historical understanding, and to the vocation of the writer.

Where the Stress Falls records a great American writer's urgent engagement with some of the most significant aesthetic and moral issues of the late twentieth century, and provides a brilliant and clear-eyed appraisal of what is at stake, in this new century, in the survival of that inheritance.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This collection of two decades of Susan Sontag essays reinforces our sense of her maverick importance. So stubbornly eclectic that she has been accused of squandering her genius, she explores what she pleases, delving into new subjects and new genres as she will. These essays, grouped into invitingly open sections ("Reading," "Seeing," "There & Here"), follow her enthusiasms through almost every branch of artistic venture and thought.
Publishers Weekly
One of the few Americans to manage superbly the dual roles of public intellectual and novelist, Sontag, whose novel In America won a National Book Award in 2000, reaches a big audience even as she divides critics. First and foremost an essayist, Sontag tackles varied interests that are compelling in part for their apparent randomness. This new collection of occasional articles includes punditry on literature, film, photography, theater and her own literary career, among other subjects. Once a champion of then-lesser-known writers like Jorge Luis Borges and Roland Barthes, she now boosts the worthy Brazilian novelist Machado de Assis and Swiss writer Robert Walser. Sometimes her enthused advocacy seems overstated, such as when she argues a little too forcefully for Glenway Wescott as a novelist and for the poet Adam Zagajewski as a prose writer. A sugary memorial for New York City Ballet founder Lincoln Kirstein is also inadequate on many levels. Still, Sontag's appetite for trends and achievements is still so fierce, and she switches subjects so quickly and lithely, that if one short essay does not convince, the next one probably will. One can't help admiring the conviction evident in "Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo," her account of directing a Beckett play in the war-torn city. There is no one quite like Sontag, and her many admirers will enjoy following up on her reading tips and engaging in debate with her via this book. (Sept.) Forecast: Expect solid sales among Sontag's fans, some of whom will pick this book up as a first foray into her essays. For those who need assistance in entering the Sontag oeuvre, biographer and Baruch College professor Carl Rollyson's Reading Susan Sontag: AnIntroduction to Her Work is forthcoming in October (Ivan R. Dee). Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Sontag collects 41 essays that frame over 20 years of astute observations on culture, arts, and aesthetics. Previously published as magazine articles, articles for tourist catalogs, program notes for puppet theater or ballet performances, notes for art exhibition catalogs, and introductions, forewords, or afterwords in other authors' monographs, the essays are organized into three categories. "Reading" encompasses Sontag's erudite, critical renderings on autobiography and the works and influence of international literary figures such as Machado de Assis, Roland Barthes, Danilo Ki, Marina Tsvetaeva, and Robert Walser. In the middle section, "Seeing," Sontag is more approachable, expressing her perceptive and provocative opinions on cinema, garden history, photography, painting, opera, drama, and dance. Finally, in "There and Now," Sontag recounts her experiences in Sarajevo and her feelings regarding travel, activism, writing, and translations. Several of the essays such as "A Letter to Borges" appear here in English for the first time. Although an introduction to prepare newcomers to Sontag for what follows would have been helpful, this remains an attractive and interesting collection from an important cultural thinker. Recommended for academic and public libraries. Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Lib., New Brunswick, NJ Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780141190211
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 11/28/2009

Meet the Author

Susan Sontag is the author of four novels, The Benefactor, Death Kit, The Volcano Lover and In America; I, etcetera, a collection of stories; several plays; and five works of nonfiction, among them On Photography and Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors. She lives in New York City. In 2001 she was awarded the Jerusalem Prize for the body of her work.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

"I would be nothing without the Russian nineteenth century . . .," Camus declared, in 1958, in a letter of homage to Pasternak — one of the constellation of magnificent writers whose work, along with the annals of their tragic destinies, preserved, recovered, discovered in translation over the past twenty-five years, has made the Russian twentieth century an event that is (or will prove to be) equally formative and, it being our century as well, far more importunate, impinging.

The Russian nineteenth century that changed our souls was an achievement of prose writers. Its twentieth century has been, mostly, an achievement of poets — but not only an achievement in poetry. About their prose the poets espoused the most passionate opinions: any ideal of seriousness inevitably seethes with dispraise. Pasternak in the last decades of his life dismissed as horribly modernist and self-conscious the splendid, subtle memoiristic prose of his youth (like Safe Conduct), while proclaiming the novel he was then working on, Doctor Zhivago, to be the most authentic and complete of all his writings, beside which his poetry was nothing in comparison. More typically, the poets were committed to a definition of poetry as an enterprise of such inherent superiority (the highest aim of literature, the highest condition of language) that any work in prose became an inferior venture — as if prose were always a communication, a service activity. "Instruction is the nerve of prose," Mandelstam wrote in an early essay, so that "what may be meaningful to the prose writer or essayist, the poet finds absolutely meaningless." While prose writers are obliged to address themselves to the concrete audience of their contemporaries, poetry as a whole has a more or less distant, unknown addressee, says Mandelstam: "Exchanging signals with the planet Mars . . . is a task worthy of a lyric poet."

Tsvetaeva shares this sense of poetry as the apex of literary endeavor — which means identifying all great writing, even if prose, as poetry. "Pushkin was a poet," she concludes her essay "Pushkin and Pugachev" (1937), and "nowhere was he the poet with such force as in the 'classical' prose of The Captain's Daughter."

The same would-be paradox with which Tsvetaeva sums up her love for 0 Pushkin's novella is elaborated by Joseph Brodsky in his essay prefacing the collected edition (in Russian) of Tsvetaeva's prose: being great prose, it must be described as "the continuation of poetry with other means." Like earlier great Russian poets, Brodsky requires for his definition of poetry a caricatural Other: the slack mental condition he equates with prose. Assuming a privative standard of prose, and of the poet's motives for turning to prose ("something usually dictated by economic considerations, 'dry spells,' or more rarely by polemical necessity"), in contrast to the most exalted, prescriptive standard of poetry (whose "true subject" is "absolute objects and absolute feelings"), it is inevitable that the poet be regarded as the aristocrat of letters, the prose writer the bourgeois or plebeian; that — another of Brodsky's images — poetry be aviation, prose the infantry.

Such a definition of poetry is actually a tautology — as if prose were identical with the "prosaic." And "prosaic" as a term of denigration, meaning dull, commonplace, ordinary, tame, is precisely a Romantic idea. (The OED gives 1813 as its earliest use in this figurative sense.) In the "defense of poetry" that is one of the signature themes of the Romantic literatures of Western Europe, poetry is a form of both language and being: an ideal of intensity, absolute candor, nobility, heroism.

The republic of letters is, in reality, an aristocracy. And "poet" has always been a titre de noblesse. But in the Romantic era, the poet's nobility ceased to be synonymous with superiority as such and acquired an adversary role: the poet as the avatar of freedom. The Romantics invented the writer as hero, a figure central to Russian literature (which does not get under way until the early nineteenth century); and, as it happened, history made of rhetoric a reality. The great Russian writers are heroes — they have no choice if they are to be great writers — and Russian literature has continued to breed Romantic notions of the poet. To the modern Russian poets, poetry defends nonconformity, freedom, individuality against the social, the wretched vulgar present, the communal drone. (It is as if prose in its true state were, finally, the State.) No wonder they go on insisting on the absoluteness of poetry and its radical difference from prose.

Prose is to Poetry, said Valéry, as walking is to dancing — Romantic assumptions about poetry's inherent superiority hardly being confined to the great Russian poets. For the poet to turn to prose, says Brodsky, is always a falling off, "like the shift from full gallop to a trot." The contrast is not just one of velocity, of course, but one of mass: lyric poetry's compactness versus the sheer extendedness of prose. (That virtuoso of extended prose, of the art of anti-laconicism, Gertrude Stein, said that poetry is nouns, prose is verbs. In other words, the distinctive genius of poetry is naming, that of prose, to show movement, process, time — past, present, and future.) The collected prose of any major poet who has written major prose — Valéry, Rilke, Brecht, Mandelstam, Tsvetaeva — is far bulkier than his or her collected poems. There is something equivalent in literature to the prestige the Romantics conferred on thinness.

That poets regularly produce prose, while prose writers rarely write poetry, is not, as Brodsky argues, evidence of poetry's superiority. According to Brodsky, "The poet, in principle, is 'higher' than the prose writer . . . because a hard-up poet can sit down and compose an article, whereas in similar straits a prose writer would hardly give thought to a poem." But the point surely is not that writing poetry is less well paid than writing prose but that it is special — the marginalizing of poetry and its audience; that what was once considered a normal skill, like playing a musical instrument, now seems the province of the difficult and the intimidating. Not only prose writers but cultivated people generally no longer write poetry. (As poetry is no longer, as a matter of course, something to memorize.) Modern performance in literature is partly shaped by the widespread discrediting of the idea of literary virtuosity; by a very real loss of virtuosity. It now seems utterly extraordinary that anyone can write brilliant prose in more than one language; we marvel at a Nabokov, a Beckett, a Cabrera Infante — but until two centuries ago such virtuosity would have been taken for granted. So, until recently, was the ability to write poetry as well as prose.

In the twentieth century, writing poems tends to be a dalliance of a prose writer's youth (Joyce, Beckett, Nabokov . . . ) or an activity practiced with the left hand (Borges, Updike . . . ). Being a poet is assumed to be more than writing poetry, even great poetry: Lawrence and Brecht, who wrote great poems, are not generally considered great poets. Being a poet is to define oneself as, to persist (against odds) in being, only a poet. Thus, the one generally acknowledged instance in twentieth-century literature of a great prose writer who was also a great poet, Thomas Hardy, is someone who renounced writing novels in order to write poetry. (Hardy ceased to be a prose writer. He became a poet.) In that sense the Romantic notion of the poet, as someone who has a maximal relation to poetry, has prevailed; and not only among the modem Russian writers.

An exception is made for criticism, however. The poet who is also a master practitioner of the critical essay loses no status as a poet; from Blok to Brodsky, most of the major Russian poets have written splendid critical prose. Indeed, since the Romantic era, most of the truly influential critics have been poets: Coleridge, Baudelaire, Valéry, Eliot. That other forms of prose are more rarely attempted marks a great difference from the Romantic era. A Goethe or Pushkin or Leopardi, who wrote both great poetry and great (non-critical) prose, did not seem odd or presumptuous. But the bifurcation of standards for prose in succeeding literary generations — the emergence of a minority tradition of "art" prose, the ascendancy of illiterate and para-literate prose — has made that kind of accomplishment far more anomalous.

Actually, the frontier between prose and poetry has become more and more permeable — unified by the ethos of maximalism characteristic of the modern artist: to create work that goes as far as it can go. The standard that seems eminently appropriate to lyric poetry, according to which poems may be regarded as linguistic artifacts to which nothing further can be done, now influences much of what is distinctively modern in prose. Precisely as prose, since Flaubert, has aspired to some of the intensity, velocity, and lexical inevitability of poetry, there seems a greater need to shore up the two-party system in literature, to distinguish prose from poetry, and to oppose them.

Why it is prose, not poetry, that is always on the defensive is that the party of prose seems at best an ad hoc coalition. How can one not be suspicious of a label that now encompasses the essay, the memoir, the novel or short story, the play? Prose is not just a ghostly category, a state of language defined negatively, by its opposite: poetry. ("Tout ce qui n' est point prose est vers, et tout ce qui n' est point vers est prose," as the philosophy teacher in Molière's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme proclaims, so that the bourgeois can discover that all his life has been — surprise! — speaking prose.) Now it is a catchall for a panoply of literary forms that, in their modern evolution and high-speed dissolution, one no longer knows how to name. As a term used to describe what Tsvetaeva wrote that couldn't be called poetry, "prose" is a relatively recent notion. When essays no longer seem like what used to be called essays, and long and short fictions no longer like what used to be called novels and stories, we call them prose.

Copyright &169; 2001 Susan Sontag

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Reading

A Poet's Prose Where the Stress Falls Afterlives: The Case of Machado de Assis A Mind in Mourning The Wisdom Project Writing Itself: On Roland Barthes Walser's Voice Danilo Kiš

Gombrowicz's Ferdydurke

Pedro Páramo

DQ

A Letter to Borges

Seeing

A Century of Cinema Novel into Film: Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz

A Note on Bunraku A Place for Fantasy The Pleasure of the Image About Hodgkin A Lexicon for Available Light

In Memory of Their Feelings Dancer and the Dance Lincoln Kirstein Wagner's Fluids An Ecstasy of Lament One Hundred Years of Italian Photography On Bellocq Borland's Babies Certain Mapplethorpes A Photograph is Not an Opinion. Or Is It?

There and Here

Homage to Halliburton Singleness Writing As Reading Thirty Years Later . . .

Questions of Travel The Idea of Europe (One More Elegy)

The Very Comical Lament of Pyramus and Thisbe (An Interlude)

Answers to a Questionnaire Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo

"There" and "Here"

Joseph Brodsky On Being Translated

Acknowledgments

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

"I would be nothing without the Russian nineteenth century . . .," Camus declared, in 1958, in a letter of homage to Pasternak -- one of the constellation of magnificent writers whose work, along with the annals of their tragic destinies, preserved, recovered, discovered in translation over the past twenty-five years, has made the Russian twentieth century an event that is (or will prove to be) equally formative and, it being our century as well, far more importunate, impinging.

The Russian nineteenth century that changed our souls was an achievement of prose writers. Its twentieth century has been, mostly, an achievement of poets -- but not only an achievement in poetry. About their prose the poets espoused the most passionate opinions: any ideal of seriousness inevitably seethes with dispraise. Pasternak in the last decades of his life dismissed as horribly modernist and self-conscious the splendid, subtle memoiristic prose of his youth (like Safe Conduct), while proclaiming the novel he was then working on, Doctor Zhivago, to be the most authentic and complete of all his writings, beside which his poetry was nothing in comparison. More typically, the poets were committed to a definition of poetry as an enterprise of such inherent superiority (the highest aim of literature, the highest condition of language) that any work in prose became an inferior venture -- as if prose were always a communication, a service activity. "Instruction is the nerve of prose," Mandelstam wrote in an early essay, so that "what may be meaningful to the prose writer or essayist, the poet finds absolutely meaningless." While prose writers are obliged to address themselves to the concrete audience of their contemporaries, poetry as a whole has a more or less distant, unknown addressee, says Mandelstam: "Exchanging signals with the planet Mars . . . is a task worthy of a lyric poet."

Tsvetaeva shares this sense of poetry as the apex of literary endeavor -- which means identifying all great writing, even if prose, as poetry. "Pushkin was a poet," she concludes her essay "Pushkin and Pugachev" (1937), and "nowhere was he the poet with such force as in the 'classical' prose of The Captain's Daughter."

The same would-be paradox with which Tsvetaeva sums up her love for Pushkin's novella is elaborated by Joseph Brodsky in his essay prefacing the collected edition (in Russian) of Tsvetaeva's prose: being great prose, it must be described as "the continuation of poetry with other means." Like earlier great Russian poets, Brodsky requires for his definition of poetry a caricatural Other: the slack mental condition he equates with prose. Assuming a privative standard of prose, and of the poet's motives for turning to prose ("something usually dictated by economic considerations, 'dry spells,' or more rarely by polemical necessity"), in contrast to the most exalted, prescriptive standard of poetry (whose "true subject" is "absolute objects and absolute feelings"), it is inevitable that the poet be regarded as the aristocrat of letters, the prose writer the bourgeois or plebeian; that -- another of Brodsky's images -- poetry be aviation, prose the infantry.

Such a definition of poetry is actually a tautology -- as if prose were identical with the "prosaic." And "prosaic" as a term of denigration, meaning dull, commonplace, ordinary, tame, is precisely a Romantic idea. (The OED gives 1813 as its earliest use in this figurative sense.) In the "defense of poetry" that is one of the signature themes of the Romantic literatures of Western Europe, poetry is a form of both language and being: an ideal of intensity, absolute candor, nobility, heroism.

The republic of letters is, in reality, an aristocracy. And "poet" has always been a titre de noblesse. But in the Romantic era, the poet's nobility ceased to be synonymous with superiority as such and acquired an adversary role: the poet as the avatar of freedom. The Romantics invented the writer as hero, a figure central to Russian literature (which does not get under way until the early nineteenth century); and, as it happened, history made of rhetoric a reality. The great Russian writers are heroes -- they have no choice if they are to be great writers -- and Russian literature has continued to breed Romantic notions of the poet. To the modern Russian poets, poetry defends nonconformity, freedom, individuality against the social, the wretched vulgar present, the communal drone. (It is as if prose in its true state were, finally, the State.) No wonder they go on insisting on the absoluteness of poetry and its radical difference from prose.

Prose is to Poetry, said Valéry, as walking is to dancing -- Romantic assumptions about poetry's inherent superiority hardly being confined to the great Russian poets. For the poet to turn to prose, says Brodsky, is always a falling off, "like the shift from full gallop to a trot." The contrast is not just one of velocity, of course, but one of mass: lyric poetry's compactness versus the sheer extendedness of prose. (That virtuoso of extended prose, of the art of anti-laconicism, Gertrude Stein, said that poetry is nouns, prose is verbs. In other words, the distinctive genius of poetry is naming, that of prose, to show movement, process, time -- past, present, and future.) The collected prose of any major poet who has written major prose -- Valéry, Rilke, Brecht, Mandelstam, Tsvetaeva -- is far bulkier than his or her collected poems. There is something equivalent in literature to the prestige the Romantics conferred on thinness.

That poets regularly produce prose, while prose writers rarely write poetry, is not, as Brodsky argues, evidence of poetry's superiority. According to Brodsky, "The poet, in principle, is 'higher' than the prose writer . . . because a hard-up poet can sit down and compose an article, whereas in similar straits a prose writer would hardly give thought to a poem." But the point surely is not that writing poetry is less well paid than writing prose but that it is special -- the marginalizing of poetry and its audience; that what was once considered a normal skill, like playing a musical instrument, now seems the province of the difficult and the intimidating. Not only prose writers but cultivated people generally no longer write poetry. (As poetry is no longer, as a matter of course, something to memorize.) Modern performance in literature is partly shaped by the widespread discrediting of the idea of literary virtuosity; by a very real loss of virtuosity. It now seems utterly extraordinary that anyone can write brilliant prose in more than one language; we marvel at a Nabokov, a Beckett, a Cabrera Infante -- but until two centuries ago such virtuosity would have been taken for granted. So, until recently, was the ability to write poetry as well as prose.

In the twentieth century, writing poems tends to be a dalliance of a prose writer's youth (Joyce, Beckett, Nabokov . . . ) or an activity practiced with the left hand (Borges, Updike . . . ). Being a poet is assumed to be more than writing poetry, even great poetry: Lawrence and Brecht, who wrote great poems, are not generally considered great poets. Being a poet is to define oneself as, to persist (against odds) in being, only a poet. Thus, the one generally acknowledged instance in twentieth-century literature of a great prose writer who was also a great poet, Thomas Hardy, is someone who renounced writing novels in order to write poetry. (Hardy ceased to be a prose writer. He became a poet.) In that sense the Romantic notion of the poet, as someone who has a maximal relation to poetry, has prevailed; and not only among the modem Russian writers.

An exception is made for criticism, however. The poet who is also a master practitioner of the critical essay loses no status as a poet; from Blok to Brodsky, most of the major Russian poets have written splendid critical prose. Indeed, since the Romantic era, most of the truly influential critics have been poets: Coleridge, Baudelaire, Valéry, Eliot. That other forms of prose are more rarely attempted marks a great difference from the Romantic era. A Goethe or Pushkin or Leopardi, who wrote both great poetry and great (non-critical) prose, did not seem odd or presumptuous. But the bifurcation of standards for prose in succeeding literary generations -- the emergence of a minority tradition of "art" prose, the ascendancy of illiterate and para-literate prose -- has made that kind of accomplishment far more anomalous.

Actually, the frontier between prose and poetry has become more and more permeable -- unified by the ethos of maximalism characteristic of the modern artist: to create work that goes as far as it can go. The standard that seems eminently appropriate to lyric poetry, according to which poems may be regarded as linguistic artifacts to which nothing further can be done, now influences much of what is distinctively modern in prose. Precisely as prose, since Flaubert, has aspired to some of the intensity, velocity, and lexical inevitability of poetry, there seems a greater need to shore up the two-party system in literature, to distinguish prose from poetry, and to oppose them.

Why it is prose, not poetry, that is always on the defensive is that the party of prose seems at best an ad hoc coalition. How can one not be suspicious of a label that now encompasses the essay, the memoir, the novel or short story, the play? Prose is not just a ghostly category, a state of language defined negatively, by its opposite: poetry. ("Tout ce qui n' est point prose est vers, et tout ce qui n' est point vers est prose," as the philosophy teacher in Molière's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme proclaims, so that the bourgeois can discover that all his life has been -- surprise! -- speaking prose.) Now it is a catchall for a panoply of literary forms that, in their modern evolution and high-speed dissolution, one no longer knows how to name. As a term used to describe what Tsvetaeva wrote that couldn't be called poetry, "prose" is a relatively recent notion. When essays no longer seem like what used to be called essays, and long and short fictions no longer like what used to be called novels and stories, we call them prose.

Copyright © 2001 Susan Sontag
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)