Robert Boyers at Harvard Book Store


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

in conversation with ROBERT PINSKY


September 26, 2023
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes ROBERT BOYERS—author and founder and editor of the Quarterly Magazine Salmagundi—for a discussion of his new book Maestros & Monsters: Days & Nights with Susan Sontag & George Steiner. He will be joined in conversation by author and US. poet laureate from 1997 to 2000, ROBERT PINSKY.

About Maestros & Monsters

This is a memoiristic book and a dual portrait, built around intense friendships with two leading public intellectuals who achieved celebrity status—Susan Sontag on a global scale, George Steiner principally in Europe, though also for a time in the US. For audiences at Woody Allen movies Sontag was the prime embodiment of the term “intellectual,” whose famous 1965 essay “Notes on Camp” won her an enormous following. For viewers of French, German and British television over decades Steiner was the primary interview show talking head, igniting controversy on many fronts, while also commanding a loyal audience for thirty years as a book critic at The New Yorker. To know Sontag and Steiner, as this memoir suggests, was often to feel overmatched and yet also bemused and awe-struck. Both of them gave off an air of omniscience and self-confidence, as if they had taken to heart the words of the Nobel laureate Elias Canetti, who wrote, “I cannot become modest; too many things burn in me.”

Maestros & Monsters is the work of a well-known public intellectual who was close to Sontag and Steiner over a half century, and who managed to bring them together on several occasions—the only times they ever met. Those encounters are among the most bizarre episodes in this narrative, which also features extended encounters with such literary figures as Arthur Koestler, Edward Said, Phillip Rieff, James Wood and others.

Praise for Maestros & Monsters

"A delicious portrait of two difficult, brilliant intellectuals, and a spirited vindication of criticism as a noble calling." —Garth Greenwell

"This superb book takes us back to the last moments of the golden age of American letters." —Cornel West

"Robert Boyers has been in close contact with every seismic shift in literary, intellectual, artistic, and academic quarters." —Joyce Carol Oates

Mask Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Robert Boyers
Robert Boyers

Robert Boyers

Robert Boyers is the author of a dozen books, including THE TYRANNY OF VIRTUE: Identity, The Academy, & The Hunt for Political Heresies (2019) and THE FATE OF IDEAS (2015). His new book, MAESTROS & MONSTERS: Days & Nights With Susan Sontag & George Steiner, is to be published in September of 2023. He is the founder and editor of the Quarterly Magazine SALMAGUNDI and Director of The New York State Summer Writers Institute. He writes often for The Nation, The New Republic, Harper’s, Granta and other magazines.

Photo credit: Liz

Robert Pinsky
Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky is the author of numerous books of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Figured Wheel, and prose, including Democracy, Culture and the Life of Poetry. US. poet laureate from 1997 to 2000, he now teaches at Boston University and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

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