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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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I'm no Plath scholar, but reading "Daddy" makes me sympathetic rather than otherwise to Otto Plath. Anyone who writes a book called Bumblebees and Their Ways can't be all bad - but also, Sylvia Plath equating her bad relationship with her father (who was far from being a Nazi) with the experience of a Holocaust victim being taken to the death camp seems pretty grotesque. Is it meant to be? Is that part of the point of the poem, that its voice is overblown, damaged, out of control, narcissistic - childish indeed? Perhaps, but it seems to be taken at face value in many readings, and the possibility that Otto Plath might not deserve his immortalization as the equivalent of Hitler gets little consideration.

As I say, I'm no Plath scholar: it's entirely possible that these points are now orthodox.

Otto was investigated by the FBI for 'pro German sympathies' during WW1 although there seems to be little evidence other than the usual wartime paranoia aimed at the 'other'.

He was a depressive (sound familiar?) and I suspect his daughter never forgave him for dying comparatively young- a great self diagnoser, he missed the fact that he had the advanced diabetes which eventually killed him.

He seems to be, as you say, a fairly blameless academic and one, furthermore, who attained his academic status by sheer hard work- he came from a family of blacksmiths, so pretty working class in origin.

Perhaps 'what everybody knows' does need a certain amount of re-examination?

I may write poetry and have a deeply conflicted relationship with my father, but I don't think I could do this to him!