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“Daddy” Is Mommy
Slate ^ | 2/11/13 | Katie Roiphe

Posted on 02/11/2013 2:30:56 PM PST by Borges

On the 50th anniversary of the day Sylvia Plath left milk on a tray for her two sleeping children and put her head into an oven, the cultural fascination with her shows no signs of abating. Though one might think that Janet Malcolm’s sublime study The Silent Woman, would be the last word on Plath, there is a spate of new books feeding the myth: Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted; An American Isis:The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath; Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953; and a new edition of The Bell Jar. Quite sensibly biographers and critics have always thought that Plath’s most famous poem, “Daddy,” was about her father. I would like to float out the theory that it is really about her mother. It is crudely reductionistic to do biographical readings of poems, of course, and it goes without saying that a poem of any accomplishment rises above the particular psychological alchemy of its making. However, in poems, as in dreams, one thing is often substituted for another; one thing stands in for another, or merges with another, codes are deployed, meanings shift and slide, often without the conscious efforts of the poet or dreamer. “Daddy” may very well, on some deeper emotional plane, mean “Mommy.”

(Excerpt) Read more at slate.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 02/11/2013 2:31:03 PM PST by Borges
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To: Borges

Interesting theory.


2 posted on 02/11/2013 2:47:22 PM PST by Huntress ("Politicians exploit economic illiteracy." --Walter Williams)
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To: Borges
Must be a liberal author to get "mommy" and "daddy" so easily confused.

CC

3 posted on 02/11/2013 2:50:08 PM PST by Celtic Conservative
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To: Borges
Must be a liberal author to get "mommy" and "daddy" so easily confused.

CC

4 posted on 02/11/2013 2:50:34 PM PST by Celtic Conservative
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To: Borges
You're posting to the wrong website, I think.

We don't cotton much to literary highbrow lunatic poetesses from New England celebrated in death by liberal prissypants periodicals and all that there fancy book-learnin'.

Sylvia Plath probably did us all a favor, becase honestly, forced to sit through a semester of bad post-modern feminist poetry I'd probably want to stick my own head in the oven.

5 posted on 02/11/2013 2:53:08 PM PST by The KG9 Kid (Demand Common Sense Nut Control.)
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To: The KG9 Kid

LOL!


6 posted on 02/11/2013 2:57:28 PM PST by dfwgator
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To: Borges

Just when you think that another pimple on the ass of time has finally been lanced from public conciousness, it festers up again. We had to read The Bell Jar in english class in 1967, just after it came out in the U.S.

The feminist movement was a small kernel just taking form at the time and the english teacher was into that sort of thing. It was a glaringly mind-numbing and all around boring waste of ink and paper. It is one of the reasons that I hold literary critics, many writers and english teachers in such low regard and I never give any of them any notice.

Who cares about the theory? I was once asked by my college english prof why I thought that William Faulkner wrote a particular novel at the time that he did. My response was that he wrote it to have money to buy his next case of booze as he was a raging alcoholic. She responded like she was gut shot.


7 posted on 02/11/2013 3:00:01 PM PST by RJS1950 (The democrats are the "enemies foreign and domestic" cited in the federal oath)
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To: All

Yawwwwwn


8 posted on 02/11/2013 3:02:02 PM PST by Shimmer1 (No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.)
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To: Borges

Hey!
What if she was the one who could have explained” 2001 A Space Odessy”?


9 posted on 02/11/2013 3:11:13 PM PST by RWGinger
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To: The KG9 Kid
"... forced to sit through a semester of bad post-modern feminist poetry I'd probably want to stick my own head in the oven."

Obviously you are deploying a code in the hopes that we will abandon our reductionistic reading of your post and explore the alchemy of symbols you have intertwined to vent frustration over your own misbegotten parental relationships and the vain attempts you made as an undergraduate to get into the pants of some physically attractive but hopelessly airheaded co-eds.

Or not.

I recommend reading aloud "The Congo" by Vachel Lindsay (preferrably to an audience of unreconstructed Black African Americans) to clear your psyche of any latent post modern concepts.
10 posted on 02/11/2013 3:12:57 PM PST by shibumi (Cover it with gas and set it on fire.)
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To: shibumi

Thanks. I just turned on my oven. This is all your fault.


11 posted on 02/11/2013 3:20:05 PM PST by The KG9 Kid (Demand Common Sense Nut Control.)
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To: Borges

Groinologists groining gives me a pain in my groin..
Gays appearing to be intellectual are really groin centered..

Many hetero’s are the same... Groiniverous.. captivated by the smells and output of the groin...
It’s like “crack” to them... Crack-addicts... an obsession...

Groinologists are the only lifeform that worships toilet-paper..
But they refuse to read what is contained thereon..
and refuse to learn.. as they flush imperative morals..

Never advanced from the pee-pee and poo-poo stage of human development.. Pity..


12 posted on 02/11/2013 3:26:42 PM PST by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole..)
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To: The KG9 Kid

Just think, back then they probably had ovens
you had to light by hand so you could possibly
commit suicide that way. Now there is a pilot
light that would keep you from being able to
do that, unless of course you want to stick
your head in a 400 degree oven. Ick.


13 posted on 02/11/2013 3:26:42 PM PST by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: Borges

You are better than this, Borges.

And frankly so was Sylvia Plath.


14 posted on 02/11/2013 3:30:14 PM PST by Fightin Whitey
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To: tet68
ooooOOOohhh! *Pilot light*!

My oven is electric. I was wondering why this F'in hurt like hell.

Thanks for telling me. Glad that's over.

15 posted on 02/11/2013 3:33:26 PM PST by The KG9 Kid (Demand Common Sense Nut Control.)
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To: Borges
Interesting theory. In literary criticism, just about anything can be something else, though.

Plath's strongest negative feelings may have been directed against her mother, but I'm pretty sure the poem wouldn't have been written without the dead German father and wouldn't have won the fame it did without the possibility that it could be read as a feminist manifesto.

Roiphe got her start arguing in the Times that Tim Burton's Batman Returns was anti-semitic ... Like I said, in literary criticism everything turns out to "really" be something else (though there really is no "really" for a whole generation of critics -- it's all just different interpretations) ...

16 posted on 02/11/2013 3:40:38 PM PST by x
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To: The KG9 Kid

I would imagine it’s hard to type with
your hair on fire...


17 posted on 02/11/2013 4:06:55 PM PST by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: The KG9 Kid
Sylvia Plath probably did us all a favor, becase honestly, forced to sit through a semester of bad post-modern feminist poetry I'd probably want to stick my own head in the oven.

LOL... So true, thou!!

18 posted on 02/11/2013 4:37:54 PM PST by ExCTCitizen (More Republicans stayed home then the margin of victory of O's Win...)
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To: The KG9 Kid; tet68
No need to light, as she probably had coal gas: http://io9.com/5959303/why-have-people-stopped-committing-suicide-with-gas
19 posted on 02/11/2013 5:04:18 PM PST by palmer (Obama = Carter + affirmative action)
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To: Borges

these people are all evil. It is evil to kill yourself. It is evil to kill yourself while children are in your house. Her husband was a huge malignant narcissist. She hated her dad, she hated her ma, sheesh, can you see why she needed Jesus?


20 posted on 02/11/2013 5:32:29 PM PST by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: The KG9 Kid

There was nothing postmodern about Plath’s work.


21 posted on 02/11/2013 5:45:05 PM PST by Borges
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To: Fightin Whitey

I was looking for something to post on the 50th anniversary and this was the best I could find.


22 posted on 02/11/2013 5:47:08 PM PST by Borges
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To: Borges

My apologies.

I hold you to a high standard because you always set one.

Just the other day I was reading a review of (another!) new biography of Ms. Plath, this bio being reasonably sympathetic and the reviewer reasonably sympathetic to it, and yet it seems the book turns on the author’s contention that Plath spent her entire creative life wishing to be “the Marilyn Monroe of poetry.”

I don’t even know how to evaluate that. But I react to it much as I do the many, many (often evil) post-mortems on Hemingway: read the work. See how it affects you. And
leave him (her) alone.

Actually I am a steady reader of biographies myself. But I can’t brook silly trendy psychoanalyzing and I don’t understand a biographer with a knife out.

BTW the review I mention was in the Wall Street Journal Weekend edition one week ago.

Best to you good sir.


23 posted on 02/11/2013 6:24:31 PM PST by Fightin Whitey
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To: RJS1950

It doesn’t remember why something was created but how good it was.


24 posted on 02/11/2013 8:43:04 PM PST by Borges
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