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Intelligencer: April 4-11, 2005


Sontag Acolyte Gets Revenge
And memorial disinvitation.
When Stanford English professor Terry Castle wrote an essay for the London Review of Books detailing her lackeylike friendship with Susan Sontag, she was trying to sort out what she now calls her “obviously mixed feelings” over Sontag’s death. But apparently Sontag’s son, David Rieff, wasn’t very happy about such anecdotes as the time Castle worried that she might have woken Sontag from a nap: “It was as if I had accused her of never having read Proust, or of watching soap operas all day. Her face instantly darkened and she snapped at me violently. . . . Didn’t I know she never had naps?” By e-mail he disinvited Castle from last Wednesday’s tribute to Sontag at Carnegie Hall. Castle told Rieff she understood, but added “that I felt he had missed a fundamental part of my essay, which was my admiration of his mother.” He wrote back: “Admiration? Personal assassination is more like it.” Rieff says Castle “was just taking posthumous revenge for her unrequited crush on my mother—hardly of great interest. Had she been writing about one of the London Review of Books’ darlings—Edward Said, say—they would never have printed the piece.”
—Jada Yuan

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