Susan Sontag and George Steiner were two of the most notable secular Jewish intellectuals of the last century; the former an influential writer, activist and filmmaker, the latter a media commentator and New Yorker literary critic.
They disliked and mistrusted one another, meeting only on the few occasions where their mutual friend Robert Boyers brought them together, producing several wrenching and hilarious exchanges. The Salmagundi founder and editor joins David Herman with his insider’s account of the controversies that Sontag and Steiner generated, an effort to explain their extraordinary fame and influence, and their role in shaping the culture of the mid-and-late 20th century.
Buy a copy of Maestro & Monsters by Robert Boyers.
This event will last approximately 1 hour, without an interval.
Digital events will take place over Zoom, with an event link sent to bookers 24 hours in advance of the event and a reminder email 30 minutes before the event starts. Ticket holders for digital events will also be sent a link to a recording of the event, available to watch until the end of March.
Book Week 24 Digi-Pass gives access to all 16 online streaming events for £39.50.
Robert Boyers founded Salmagundi, an international quarterly, in 1965 and continues to edit the journal, to teach at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, and to direct The New York State Summer Writers Institute. He is the author of hundreds of periodical essays and of a dozen books, including his 2019 book on the “culture wars.” The Tyranny of Virtue: Identity, The Academy & The Hunt for Political Heresies. He also edited and wrote the introduction for George Steiner at The New Yorker, a book that has been published in more than twenty languages.
David Herman was a TV producer for twenty years and for the past twenty years has worked as a freelance writer, writing more than a thousand articles, reviews and essays for The New Statesman, Prospect, The Guardian and a wide range of Jewish publications including The Jewish Chronicle, Jewish Renaissance and The Jewish Quarterly.