(Click for larger image)

Sontag, Susan. ON PHOTOGRAPHY. New York City, NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1977. Hardcover. First Edition/First Printing. 207 pages. Fine/Fine.

Collection of essays. One of the greatest books of the 20th century. The First Hardcover Edition. Precedes and should not be confused with all other subsequent editions. Published in a small and limited first print run as a hardcover original only. The First Edition is now rare. Presents Susan Sontag's "On Photography". The fullest expression of Sontag's lifelong attempt to define the common ground and the (reversible) hierarchy between ethics and aesthetics. Her insight about "photographic seeing" remains THE most radical criticism of contemporary life: We now see the world as a series of images. For all of our pious lip service to literature, ours is a visual - rather than literary - culture: People today think, feel, and express themselves through images rather than words. These images are ALL photographically-based. Hence our dominant "entertainment/celebrity" culture, which depends on appearance, that is to say, it is image-based (rather than based on substance). Martin Harrison's great book on fashion/celebrity photography is simply titled "Appearances" (1991). Reality TV, cell phones that are also cameras, Facebook, and Snapchat (a pun on "snapshot"; its founders billed their start-up as "THE camera company") are merely the more recent ways through which we think and feel that something isn't real until it becomes an image. And when scientists snapped the first-ever photograph of the black hole (in April, 2019), they went nuts, and celebrated the image as an epochal event in human consciousness and history. The fact is that our technology-obsessed world began with the invention of the camera, which medium permanently altered our understanding of reality. Philosophy: Reality is invisible. Photography: Reality is visible. It is ironic that it took Sontag, a word-driven writer-intellectual, to realize all this back in 1977. That is precisely why she matters: A thinker who sees life as it is, before anyone else does, and thereby makes us understand. Her sustained examination of photography will not be surpassed: As knowledge, as an instrument of moral conscience, as the art of our time, and as a uniquely evocative trace of reality that IS reality (rather than a mere imitation of it). There are only two books on photography that are great: Susan Sontag's "On Photography" and Roland Barthes' "Camera Lucida" (1981). If Sontag's book is finally, an ethics of photography, then Barthes' book is an aesthetics of photography, of the most surprising kind: Anti-systematic and sentimental. An absolute "must-have" title for Susan Sontag collectors. This title is a great book. It comes with a 6 X 8 inch framed Fotofolio portrait of Susan Sontag by Peter Hujar. As far as we know, this is the only copy (with framed portrait) of the First Hardcover Edition/First Printing available online and is in especially fine condition: Clean, crisp, and bright, pristine beauties. It is the single most beautiful copy we have ever seen. Please note: Copies available online have serious flaws or are subsequent printings (even if signed). This is surely an accessible and lovely alternative. A rare set thus. One of the most influential and important writer-intellectuals of the 20th century. A fine collectible set. (SEE ALSO OTHER SUSAN SONTAG TITLES IN OUR CATALOG). ISBN 0374226261. $500.00

This item is available for purchase. This web page was most recently updated on October 22, 2019.