Three Biographies to Enjoy in Quarantine

The lives of Susan Sontag, Bernard Buffet and Claude Lanzmann

Aniela Rybak | 15 June 2020

During the first three weeks of Warsaw’s lockdown (two of which I spent alone in quarantine), I read three different biographies that made me reflect on the genre in general, beyond just the lives of the three individuals. Now, when we may feel that our lives have been put on pause, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to read about somebody else’s experiences. Virginia Woolf, in her essay The Art of Biography, asks whether biography can be considered art. She not only comes to the conclusion that this genre is as valuable as other types of literature, but also says that sometimes a fact highlighted in a biography will stay with its reader for a long time and return to them in the most unexpected of ways. I want to recommend to you these three books, because I am pretty sure some of their fragments will linger on in the memory of their readers for longer.

Susan Sontag: Her Life by Benjamin Moser

Cover of Susan Sontag: Her Life by Benjamin Moser (Cover Allen Lane, Penguin Books)