Where the Stress Falls

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Where the Stress Falls
Where the Stress Falls.jpg
Cover of the first edition
Author Susan Sontag
Country United States
Language English
Subject Criticism
Publication date
Media type Print

Where the Stress Falls, published in 2001, is the last collection of essays published by Susan Sontag before her death in 2004. The essays vary between her experiences in the theater ("Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo") to book reviews.


Where the Stress Falls has been praised by literary critics. Publishers Weekly lauded Sontag as "first and foremost an essayist" and wrote, "Sontag's appetite for trends and achievements is still so fierce, and she switches subjects so quickly and lithely, that if one short essay does not convince, the next one probably will."[1] The book was also praised by P. D. Smith of The Guardian, who wrote, "An eclectic volume, it is unified by Sontag's tireless interrogation of the aesthetic impulse and by her passion for ideas, culture and especially for writing."[2]

Conversely, the collection was heavily criticized by William Deresiewicz of The New York Times, who opined, "While Where the Stress Falls won't do much to enhance her stature as a thinker, never before has she made such large claims for her moral pre-eminence, her exemplary fulfillment of the intellectual's mission as society's conscience. In effect, she's the first person in a long while to nominate herself so publicly for sainthood." He added:

Its 41 pieces, which cover a wide variety of writers and visual and theatrical artists, are mostly brief -- appreciations, elegies, reflections -- and mostly occasional: prefaces, catalog copy, talks. This is connoisseurial prose, not sustained argumentation. But a belletrist Sontag has never been; a few of these pieces are quite fine, but most reproduce the faults of her earlier essays while eschewing their virtues. Still there the opacities and self-contradictions, the verbal infelicities, the thundering announcements of the obvious or dubious. Gone the analytic energy, the synthesizing reach, the lightning insight. Trying to sound lyrical, she merely sounds silly.[3]


  1. ^ "In America". Publishers Weekly. August 20, 2001. Retrieved April 13, 2016. 
  2. ^ Smith, P. D. (31 July 2009). "Where the Stress Falls by Susan Sontag". The Guardian. Retrieved April 13, 2016. 
  3. ^ Deresiewicz, William (November 4, 2001). "The Radical Imagination". The New York Times. Retrieved April 13, 2016.