Skip to comments.“Daddy” Is Mommy
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 Malcolms sublime study The Silent Woman, would be the last word on Plath, there is a spate of new books feeding the myth: Mad Girls 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 Plaths 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 ...
There was nothing postmodern about Plath’s work.
I was looking for something to post on the 50th anniversary and this was the best I could find.
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.
It doesn’t remember why something was created but how good it was.