Susan Sontag in a library

New Biography Claims Sontag Is True Author of Her Husband’s Book

A new biography on Susan SontagSontag: Her Life and Work, makes the claim that Sontag was the true author of Freud: The Mind of the Moralist, previously credited to her husband Philip Rieff.

Benjamin Moser, author of Sontag’s biography, compiled his research, spoke with old friends, and came to the conclusion that Sontag did not only co-author the work but wrote the whole thing. Yes, Reiff did the research. There is evidence that Sontag’s first husband, Philip Rieff, did the heavy lifting- researching and chronicling Freud’s life, but not the writing.

The original 1959 version of the book credits Sontag with co-authoring, but after their divorce in 1961, subsequent editions of the book no longer credited her work. Her name had completely disappeared from any acknowledgements in the book until forty years later, when Rieff specifically mentioned his wife’s help with the book and issued an apology.


Benjamin Moser

image via flickr

Sontag married Rieff at the age of seventeen, just ten days after meeting him at a lecture. After their divorce, her career took off in 1966. According to Moser, there are diary entires and letters that chronicle Sontag’s involvement on the book, from research to the time she invested in the project. Even friends of the couple have commented that she spent hours writing and rewriting from scratch.

Moser is also the author of biography of Clarice Lispector, Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector, published in 2009.

Featured Image Via The Paris Review