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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.

There was this Plath-obsessed woman that I met at Cambridge, who was living (by demand) in the poet's old room at Newnham. I was going down to London once with my friend H.--a vast, timid, scholarly fellow--when she laid hold of us, and ranted all the way to Kings Cross. She was terrifying. This was like 1975, and she wore a Westchester mink, and spike heels, and bloodred lipstick--utterly witch queen and bizarre amid the floral milkmaid smocks in fashion then. She seized us with her red red talons, and bent her glaring soul on us, engorged, tumescent, purple with her rage, and told us of her fell designs on Ted Hughes--flaying and castration to begin with. And poor H., a gentle soul, about the tonnage and intelligence of Samuel Johnson, and twice as eccentric, shrank further and further into his corner, clutching a 1737 full-calf volume of the Gentleman's Magazine to his blameless and misbuttoned chest.



Plath certainly excites impassioned advocacy. I've already been told off-list that this post makes me an apologist for child abuse.