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      Robert Boyers’ memoir of his 50-years of friendship with Susan Sontag and George Steiner focuses an  insider’s lens on two celebrated intellectuals. As the founding editor of Salmagundi, the acclaimed literary quarterly, Boyers formed a lifelong friendship with Susan Sontag shortly after he published “On Susan Sontag and the New Sensibility” in the pages of his journal. Over the years, Sontag collaborated with Boyers, planning several of the magazine’s symposia and regularly participating in the New York State Summer Writers Institute in Saratoga Springs.  
      In 1965, Boyers petitioned for admission to the seminar of the celebrated essayist and cultural critic, George Steiner, at New York University.  Boyers participation in that fateful course, developed into a lifelong friendship, a transcontinental correspondence, and frequent collaborations with world renowned intellectuals. Although close to both Sontag and Steiner, Boyers was aware of their mutual antipathy, yet managed to bring them together on several frosty occasions. 
       Maestros & Monsters recounts the highs and lows of friendship with these two intellectual icons whose ambitions and achievements were, to say the least, outsized. Brilliant though they were, Sontag and Steiner could also be demanding and difficult — to Boyers and others as well. Their encounters with other leading thinkers--Arthur Koestler, Irving Howe, Conor Cruise O’Brien, Edward Said, Philip Rieff, James Wood— sparked debates and at times, bitter recriminations.  Though Sontag and Steiner often tested Boyers’ patience, his loyalty remained steadfast — and it was rewarded with their trust in him and their lifelong bond. 

Maestros & Monsters: Days & Nights With Susan Sontag & George Steiner

SKU: 9781942134886
  • “Robert Boyers has made in this sometimes brutally honest but always loving memoir of his difficult friends a moving contribution to the history of our intellectual culture. Boyers and his wife, the poet Peg Boyers, were for decades deeply involved with Sontag and Steiner’s work, no less when they disagreed with them. What Sontag called ‘the dramaturgy of ideas’ and ‘the dramaturgy of feeling’ flow together in Boyers’ portrait of brilliance and vulnerabilities, and the life of the mind as human passion. He recalls everything there is to respect about them and to treasure in their legacies.” – Darryl Pinckney

    “Robert Boyers has managed not only to draw extraordinarily vivid portrayals of two writer-critics, but also to add a third portrait: that of the author himself, who plays a sort of wry pragmatic Sancho Panza role to these two disputatious Knights of Intellect. A thrillingly generous book, it deserves to be seen as following in the grand tradition of Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the Poets, Sainte-Beuve’s biographical sketches and Turgenev’s Literary Reminiscences.”               —Phillip Lopate 

    “This superb book takes us back to the last moments of the golden age of American letters. Despite inescapable faults and foibles of these figures, Robert Boyers lays bare with wisdom and wit their absolute commitment to the life of the mind and majesty of the intellectual vocation. His own profound capacity for friendship animates and elevates this fascinating book.” — Cornel West 

    “Robert Boyers possesses a rare genius for friendship, and above all his book is a testament to friendship as a way of life, and as the medium in which thinking thrives. I loved it.” — Garth Greenwell  

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