Word + Quiz: lacuna

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Word + Quiz: lacuna

1. a blank gap or missing part

2. an ornamental sunken panel in a ceiling or dome

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The word lacuna has appeared in six articles on NYTimes.com in the past year, including on Sept. 15 in “A Big New Biography of Susan Sontag Digs to Find the Person Beneath the Icon” by Nina Siegal:

Moser quotes from a letter that Susan wrote to Zwick, her sister, in which she describes her work for Rieff: “He corrects what I have written + submits it under his own name. In other words, I’m a ghost writer!” It’s part of Moser’s establishing a case that Sontag gave up rights to authorship of the Freud book in exchange for custody of her son in the couple’s subsequent divorce.

“Of course she wrote it,” Zwick said in our interview. “We always knew it. A lot of people always knew it.”

Moser saw a copy of the book in which Rieff wrote a personal dedication to Sontag, crediting her as a co-author 40 years later. But he never found a signed legal agreement, which would have settled the matter for good.

“It’s an interesting lacuna,” Moser said. “There’s almost nothing about that in the archive. She talked about it all the time in her life; it was an episode that was really traumatic for her.”

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