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Against Interpretation

Against Interpretation

Against Interpretation and Other Essays is a collection of essays by Susan Sontag which was published in 1966. It includes some of Sontag's best-known works, including "On Style", "Notes on 'Camp'", and the titular essay "Against Interpretation". In the last, Sontag argued that the emphasis which had come to be placed on the intellect under modern social and cultural conditions had given way to a new critical approach to aesthetics that was increasingly usurping the spiritual importance of art. Rather than recognizing great creative works as possible sources of energy and defense against the brute rationality and empiricism that seemed to be seeping into every aspect of western life at the middle of the twentieth century, she argued, contemporary critics were all too often taking art's transcendental power for granted, and focusing instead on their own intellectually constructed abstractions like "form" and "content." In effect, she wrote, interpretation had become "the intellect's revenge upon art." The essay famously finished with the words, "in place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art".

The 1990 edition of the collection is available from Anchor Books (ISBN 0-312-28086-6).

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