Terry Castle

  • Terry Castle

    Benjamin Moser’s Sontag: Her Life and Work (Ecco) succeeds as it does—magnificently, humanely—by displaying the same intellectual purchase, curiosity, and moral capaciousness to which his subject laid so inspiring and noble a claim over a lifetime. Susan Sontag was a difficult, galvanic presence in American arts and letters for half a century, and her biographer takes her measure with unfailing intelligence, honesty, and sympathy.

    So far, so blurby. (Yet heartfelt.) But there was a glaring problem with Sontag, of course: the fantastical scarecrow unpleasantness she could turn on anyone—friend,

  • Terry Castle

    TERRY CASTLE

    My favorite read of 2016 was Living on Paper: Letters from Iris Murdoch 1934–1995, edited by Avril Horner and Anne Rowe (Princeton). Yes, you know: that Iris Murdoch! Moral philosopher (1919–1999), Oxford don (St. Anne’s), author of twenty-six famously cerebro-sexual novels. Granted, in photos: a bit odd-looking. Severe but Cuddly in Her Own Dykey Way. Strange fourteenth-century male haircut. Favored burlap sackdresses. Married in 1950s to fluffy-haired embalmed sprite and fellow Oxonian John Bayley. Daily nude swims in weedy English ponds. Notorious sloven. Nonetheless: Brainy