Susan Sontag got freedom. She got freedom from a marriage she never should have made. Paris was a place that gave her permission to live out her sexuality. She got a model of how to be an intellectual without being in a university. That was really key for her. What she had was like a model of a way of life.
Then Angela Davis, her case is very different than the other two. I would say that France had a profound impact on her in that she learned in France that racism is not confined to Birmingham, Ala. That it was an international phenomenon, that the French were extremely racist toward the Algerians. That opened her up to all sorts of analysis. She’s been very important in the American scene for having really had a very broad and nonparochial perspective on issues of race. That was important to her. But I would say that in general she was more important to France than France was to her.
Paris was then and remains the world capital of literature. Each of these women had dreams about Paris before they went there. Their families had dreams about Paris. Jacqueline Bouvier’s grandfather gave [his family] all a genealogy showing that they were descended from [French] royalty. Susan Sontag imagined herself as a European when she was a child at North Hollywood High. Her imagination wasn’t any European. I do believe she imagined herself a French European. She was reading about Marie Curie at school. She was reading André Gide at school.