Susan Sontag’s private diaries include all the details of her sexual discovery


Note to self: Never have children.

Second note to self: Never write private things down — ever.

These are just some new things I’ve picked up recently after learning that the late Susan Sontag‘s son will be publishing her personal diaries — her detailing of sexual discovery included.

Sontag was a prolific essayist whose relationship with photographer Annie Leibovitz was only really solidified publicly after her death. It was well-known and accepted that she was bisexual, but she kept most of her private life private, so something tells me she wouldn’t be so excited to know that her journals are being made available.

Sontag kept diaries since she was a teenager, so the books will be published in three different volumes, beginning next January. The Independent reported that she discusses her sexuality frequently from an early age, including these excerpts:

Age 15: “I am very young, and perhaps the most disturbing aspects of my ambitions will be outgrown … so now I feel I have lesbian tendencies (how reluctantly I write this).”

Age 16: “Perhaps I was drunk, after all, because it was so beautiful when H began making love to me …. It had been 4:00 before we had gotten to bed … I became fully conscious that I desired her, she knew it, too….”

OK, so something tells me these are going to be good, and maybe a little too juicy to pass up. Also, I can’t blame her son, David, too much as he noted he wanted to publish them before anyone else could do it their own way:

“It was a difficult decision for me to make and my reasons are that I didn’t have much choice given the fact that she chose to sell the papers to the University of California. So later, down the line, editions of it would inevitably be published, so I would rather do it myself …. I certainly made every effort in the editing not to cut anything on the basis of my being uncomfortable with it, and not to cut anything my mother might have preferred the world not to know.”

Susan and her son, David

Fair enough. The world will be better off for the work’s availability, I’m sure, as Sontag is one of the greatest writers of the last century (and not just greatest “female” or greatest “bisexual” — greatest period).

Look for Penguin Group to publish the first edition, Reborn: Early Diaries, 1947-1964 in January 2009. Until then, keep your own diaries under lock and key.