Sontag: Her Life by Benjamin Moser review heavyweight study of a critical colossus

Susan Sontags rise from gawky swot to opinion leader is incisively charted Art, Susan Sontag declared in 1965, is the supreme game which the will plays with itself. Sontag, supremely wilful, played the game with herself: she began as a critic of art, but turned into what she called an art object endowed with this quality of assurance, authority that she viewed as the barbed, bristling armature of style. At first, what mattered was the sparky contents of Sontags head; by the end she was best known for the way she wore her hair that saturnine battle helmet of dyed black, with a single stripe left white at the temple like a Frankensteinian lighting bolt of intellect. As much as …