“The romantic treatment of death asserts that people were made singular, and more interesting, by their illness. ‘I look pale,’ said Byron, looking into a mirror. ‘I should like to die of consumption.’ ‘Why?’ asked a friend, who was visiting Byron in Athens in October 1810. ‘Because the ladies would all say, “Look at that poor Byron, look how interesting he looks in dying.”’ Perhaps the main gift to sensibility made by the Romantics is not the aesthetics of cruelty and the beauty of the morbid (as Mario Praz suggested in his famous book), or even the demand for unlimited personal liberty, but the nihilistic and sentimental idea of ‘the interesting.’”
— Susan Sontag (1977) Illness as Metaphor
First, Susan Sontag in the photo smiles brightly. I’ve never see her this happy in all photography. She’d rather have her melancholoy temperament in front of a camera. I think, it is because of her standing near all the books.
Second, it is one of the most brilliant books, Illness as Metaphor. For Sontag, everything in her life could be written, it is interesting, it is amazing, even illness is part of her wisdom.
Again, she writes for the power of humanity. Anything that related to humanity could become her materials.
Look at her smile!