A glorious, sweeping new novel from the bestselling author of The Volcano Lover.
The Volcano Lover, Susan Sontag's bestselling 1992 novel, retold the love story of Lady Emma Hamilton and Lord Nelson with consummate power. In her enthralling new novel-once again based on a real story-Sontag shows us our own country on the cusp of modernity. In 1876 a group of Poles led by Maryna Zalewska, Poland's greatest actress, travel to California to found a "utopian" commune. Maryna, who has renounced her career, is accompanied by her small son and husband; in her entourage is a rising young writer who is in love with her. The novel portrays a West that is still largely empty, where white settlers confront native Californians and Asian coolies. The image of America, and of California-as fantasy, as escape, as radical simplification-constantly meets a more complex reality. The commune fails and most of the migrs go home, but Maryna stays and triumphs on the American stage. In America is a big, juicy, surprising book-about a woman's search for self-transformation, about the fate of idealism, about the world of the theater-that will captivate its readers from the first page. It is Sontag's most delicious, most brilliant achievement.
Susan Sontag is the internationally acclaimed author of three novels, a volume of stories, and six collections of essays. In 1990 she received a five-year fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation. She lives in New York City.
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As an essayist, Susan Sontag has tended to stick pretty rigorously to the modern age, whether she's anatomizing the wild world of camp or roasting Leni Riefenstahl over the coals. But in her fiction--particularly in such fin-de-siècle productions as The Volcano Lover--she's clearly felt the allure of the past. And In America, which chronicles the travails of a late-19th-century actress, shows Sontag in top time-traveling form. What's more, it illuminates her motives for glancing so persistently backward. "Almost everything good seems located in the past," she notes in a first-person prologue, "perhaps that's an illusion, but I feel nostalgic for every era before I was born; and one is freer of modern inhibitions, perhaps because one bears no responsibility for the past." There's nothing, it seems, like the age of innocence--a golden moment before we moderns had the curse of self-consciousness brought down on our heads.
It's ironic, then, that In America revolves around a regular paragon of self-consciousness: a brilliant Polish diva named Maryna Zalezowska. The year is 1876, and this Bernhardt-like figure has decided to abandon the stage and establish a utopian commune in (you guessed it) California. Not exactly a logical career move, is it? Yet this journey to America does involve a major feat of self-reinvention, for which Maryna may be uniquely qualified. Writing a letter home from the brave new world of Hoboken, New Jersey, she argues against the idea that "life cannot be restarted, that we are all prisoners of whatever we have become." And once she arrives in Anaheim with her husband, child, and fellow utopians in tow, she does seem to slough off the skin of her older, European self. She is now that exotic creature, an American, existing in an equally exotic landscape--which happens to elicit some of Sontag's most lyrical prose:
They had never felt as erect, as vertical, their skin brushed by the hot Santa Ana wind, their ears lulled by the oddly intrusive sound of their own footfalls.... Hardly anything is near anything here: those slouching braided sentinels, the yucca trees, and bouquets of drooping spears, the agaves, and the squat clusters of prickly pears, all so widely spaced, so unresembling--and nothing had to do with anything else.Like every utopia in human history, Maryna's is a failure. Following its collapse, she is moved to return to the theater--but as an American, now, plugged securely into the middlebrow culture of her adopted land. The rest of the novel charts her brilliant career among the philistines, along with a number of heated erotic detours.
Given its subject matter, Sontag's novel is oddly anti-dramatic: she juggles a half-dozen narrative strategies but seldom allows us to sink our teeth into a prolonged scene. Yet she delivers a great many other riches by way of compensation. Her take on the perils and pleasures of expatriation is worthy of Henry James (who actually makes a cameo appearance, assuring Maryna that England and America will morph into "one big Anglo-Saxon total.") And she includes a superbly entertaining portrait of theatrical life, culminating in a virtuoso monologue from Edwin Booth that suggests a Gilded Age Samuel Beckett. As always, there is the pleasure of watching the author's formidable intelligence at work, immersing us in the details of a character or landscape and then surfacing for a deep draught of abstraction. Perhaps Sontag is too cerebral to ever produce a straightforward work of fiction. But this time around, anyway, she brings both brains and literary brawn to bear on what Henry James himself called "the complex fate" of being an American. --James MarcusAbout the Author:
Susan Sontag was born in Manhattan in 1933 and studied at the universities of Chicago, Harvard and Oxford. Her non-fiction works include Against Interpretation, On Photography, Illness as Metaphor, AIDS and its Metaphors and Regarding the Pain of Others. She is also the author of four novels, a collection of stories and several plays. Her books are translated into thirty-two languages. In 2001 she was awarded the Jerusalem Prize for the body of her work, and in 2003 she received the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. She died in December 2004.
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Descrizione libro Farrar Straus Giroux, 2000. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. Condizione sovraccoperta: As New. 1st Edition. 0374175403 First edition, First printing. Not inscribed clipped or otherwise marked. Shipped in a box. Fine/Fine. Codice libro della libreria ABE-3740135404
Descrizione libro Farrar Straus Giroux, 2000. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. 000-176: Hardcover with Dustjacket. 387 pages. No Defects (jacket has a few tiny surface blemishes from store shelf). A New, Unread Book. A beautiful, square, tight copy with clean, unmarked, acid-free pages. Outstanding Gift Quality. A Portrait of America in 1876 when a Group of Polish Immigrants travel to California to found a Utopian Commune. A National Book Award Winner. Stated First Edition, Second Printing 2000. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York. A signed first edition of this book was privately printed by The Franklin Library. Codice libro della libreria 26088
Descrizione libro Farrar Straus Giroux, 2000. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. 000-100: Hardcover with Dustjacket. 387 pages. No Defects. A New, Unread Book. A beautiful, square, tight copy with clean, unmarked, acid-free pages. Outstanding Gift Quality. A Portrait of America in 1876 when a Group of Polish Immigrants travel to California to found a Utopian Commune. A National Book Award Winner. Stated First Edition, Second Printing 2000. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York. A signed first edition of this book was privately printed by The Franklin Library. Codice libro della libreria 26089
Descrizione libro Farrar Straus Giroux, 2000. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria DADAX0374175403
Descrizione libro Farrar Straus Giroux, 2000. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. book. Codice libro della libreria M0374175403
Descrizione libro Farrar Straus Giroux, 2000. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. Never used!. Codice libro della libreria P110374175403
Descrizione libro Noonday Press. Encuadernación de tapa dura. Condizione libro: Nuevo. 17/01/10. Codice libro della libreria 161709
Descrizione libro Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 2000. Condizione libro: New. Stated 1st Edition.. 'The author''s final great novel, winner of the Natl Book Award. Mint unread copy of HB 1st. ' 6-1/4 x 9-1/4, 387 pp. Hardcover in black/brick boards; in sepia photo jacket. Codice libro della libreria 30005
Descrizione libro Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. Condizione sovraccoperta: New. 1st Edition.... FSG (New York), 2000. First edition. First printing. Hardbound. SIGNED BY AUTHOR on half title. New in dust jacket. A perfect unread copy. Winnder of the National Book Award in Fiction. [c4] 0.0. Signed by Author(s). Codice libro della libreria 3291