Susan Sontag’s visit to Thomas Mann on December 28, 1949 has, until now, tended to be treated as a parenthetical anecdote, a biographical curiosity – or, indeed, to be ignored altogether. The truly interesting question of the consequences of Sontag’s encounter with Mann and his work has not even come close to being answered. This article explores how Sontag’s – often partially autobiographical – statements concerning Thomas Mann combine reflections on authorship and storytelling with thoughts about Germany and, in particular, about the Shoah. Building on this, a further, more general question emerges: what role do the essayist’s secular Jewish origins play in her encounter with the German writer?
© 2015 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston