Books: A Tourist in Other People's Reality

ON PHOTOGRAPHY by Susan Sontag; Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 207 pages; $7,95

"The best writing on photography,"Susan Sontag declares, "has been by moralists — Marxists or would-be Marxists — hooked on photographs but troubled by the way photography inexorably beautifies." The category includes its maker.

There are perhaps half a dozen critics in America whose silence would be a loss to writing itself, and Sontag is one of them. On Photography is not a history of photography. Nor is it a book about photographers. Instead, as the title declares, Sontag has elected to write a meditation on the medium itself.

Her timing is...

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