Regarding the Pain of Others

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Oct 1, 2013 - Social Science - 144 pages

A brilliant, clear-eyed new consideration of the visual representation of violence in our culture--its ubiquity, meanings, and effects

Watching the evening news offers constant evidence of atrocity--a daily commonplace in our "society of spectacle." But are viewers inured -or incited--to violence by the daily depiction of cruelty and horror? Is the viewer's perception of reality eroded by the universal availability of imagery intended to shock?

In her first full-scale investigation of the role of imagery in our culture since her now-classic book On Photography defined the terms of the debate twenty-five years ago, Susan Sontag cuts through circular arguments about how pictures can inspire dissent or foster violence as she takes a fresh look at the representation of atrocity--from Goya's The Disasters of War to photographs of the American Civil War, lynchings of blacks in the South, and Dachau and Auschwitz to contemporary horrific images of Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and New York City on September 11, 2001.

As John Berger wrote when On Photography was first published, "All future discussions or analysis of the role of photography in the affluent mass-media societies is now bound to begin with her book." Sontag's new book, a startling reappraisal of the intersection of "information", "news," "art," and politics in the contemporary depiction of war and disaster, will be equally essential. It will forever alter our thinking about the uses and meanings of images in our world.

 

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User Review  - jonfaith - LibraryThing

Cursory and effective, I read this in an afternoon. I have never allowed myself access to her fiction but her essays always maintained a welcome gravity. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Lord_Boris - LibraryThing

An analysis of the human response to images of the suffering of others. Mainly relating to pictures of people afflicted by war from Goya's 18th century Disasters of War, to late 20th century conflicts ... Read full review

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About the author (2013)

Susan Sontag is the author of four other novels, The Benefactor, Death Kit, and The Volcano Lover; and In America, which won the 2000 National Book Award for fiction; I, etcetera a collection of stories; several plays, and five works of nonfiction, among them On Photography and Against Interpretation. In 2001 she was awarded the Jerusalem Prize for the body of her work.

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