The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Saturday, January 01, 2005  

The Volcano Lover

This week’s book of the week is The Volcano Lover by Susan Sontag, which I read when it was published in 1992.

Here are a few comments culled by

“A passionate and often radical novel of ideas that affords all the old-fashioned pleasures of a traditional historical novel.”-- New York Times

“A great novel. It repeatedly scales heights of complex thought, passion, and expression that few American writers ever approach, while reimagining a majestic love story in dazzling style.”-- Philadelphia Inquirer

“A panoramic, passionately feminist examination of the changing shape of Western civilization since the Age of Enlightenment. Sontag’s book is a sweeping, exquisitely detailed picture of Europe in the final decades of the eighteenth century.”-- Chicago Sun-Times

“A slippery, intelligent, provocative, and gripping book.”-- Washington Post Book World

“A novel Susan Sontag was destined to write, a shift from the moral intelligence of the essayist to the intelligent heart of the novelist. To her admirers, the novel will only confirm her originality, and perhaps win over a whole new set of readers. For The Volcano Lover is not just a thinking woman’s (or man’s) historical romance but a sly, luminously insightful, provocative novel.”-- The Nation

“A brilliant performance.”-- Chicago Tribune

Frankly, I thought The Volcano Lover kind of stunk. Pretentiously ponderous. Dismally dull. Consistently cloying. But Sontag passed away earlier this week, so I really shouldn’t say that, should I?

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