Susan Sontag, the American writer, was the real author of her husband’s landmark book on Freud, a new biography claims.
"Freud: The Mind of the Moralist" was published by Philip Rieff in 1959, the same year he and Sontag divorced after eight years of marriage.
According to Benjamin Moser’s "Sontag: Her Life," due to be published in the autumn, a copy of which was reviewed by the Guardian newspaper, the Freud book was based on Rieff’s research.
But Minda Rae Amiran, a friend of Sontag’s, told Moser: "He [Rieff] almost certainly did not actually write the book upon which his career was based.
"Susan was spending every afternoon rewriting the whole thing from scratch."
In a contemporaneous letter, quoted by Moser, Sontag wrote to her mother: "In third gear now on the book – working about 10 hours a day on it at least."
Another letter, from a friend to Sontag, said: "Did you, by the way, relinquish all rights on the Freud? It would be a crime."
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Sontag said she had done so, and the friend wrote back: "I am without consolation. You cannot give your intellectual contribution to another person."
Sontag married Rieff when she was aged 17. Her later novels included The Volcano Lover and In America. She died in 2004. Rieff, a celebrated sociologist and cultural critic, died two years later.
In a statement to the Guardian, Moser said: "It had long been rumoured that Susan Sontag was the true author of her husband’s great book.
"But in the course of my research I discovered that she had indeed written it, only agreeing to sign it over during an acrimonious divorce, in order to keep her ex-husband from taking her child. ‘It was a blood sacrifice,’ a friend told me."