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Re: [mythsoc] Interesting mention of Joy Davidman in new book

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  • David S. Bratman
    ... Thanks for mentioning this book, Wendell. I ve hunted it down in my university library, and found an ... interesting ... 14-page psychobiography of
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 8, 2002
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      At 08:30 PM 8/7/2002 , Wendell Wagner wrote:
      >According to a review I just read, there's a new book called _Exiles from a
      >Future Time: The Forging of the Mid-Twentieth-Century Literary Left_ by Alan
      >M. Wald. It talks about Joy Davidman (at least enough to merit a mention in
      >the review). It's published by University of North Carolina Press, but I
      >know nothing of it beyond that.

      Thanks for mentioning this book, Wendell. I've hunted it down in my
      university library, and found an ... interesting ... 14-page
      psychobiography of Davidman with a literary analysis of her poetry. Some

      [As a child, Joy was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism,] "which, after many
      misdiagnoses, was treated with a radium belt arranged around Joy's throat
      for twenty-four hours once a week over the passage of a year. The
      procedure seemed to work at the time, but it was presumably the cause of
      the cancer that would riddle her body following her fortieth birthday." (p.

      "Davidman's recurrent dream of a quest for sturdy security that always
      stays out of reach foreshadows her drift toward older men. It furthermore
      augurs the manner in which she eventually related to Communism, as well as
      her ultimate religious conversion." (p. 241) [Yes, let's reduce people to
      psychological cardboard]

      "Davidman collaborated with Oliver Pilat, a journalist for the _New York
      Post_, in a long series that appeared from October to November 1949 called
      'Girl Communist,' covering her Communist Party experiences. Davidman was
      adamant that most Party members were merely well-meaning people who were
      self-deluded, but her account was spiced with hilarious as well as
      outrageously unfair anecdotes and observations about her former comrades."
      (p. 246-7) [Hey, I'd like to read that]

      "The story of Davidman's meetings with Lewis in England, her gradual
      enchanting of Lewis and his brother, and the circumstances leading to the
      stunning marriage of Davidman to the life-long bachelor Lewis in 1956,
      received widespread notoriety in the 1992 motion picture _Shadowlands_."
      (p. 247-8) [Nothing about whether it was treated with any accuracy, note]

      "A less-idealized consideration of the circumstances of the break-up of her
      marriage with Gresham suggests that Davidman probably arranged the domestic
      situation so as to precipitate a turn of events allowing her to absolve her
      obligation, as an Episcopalian, to resist divorce. She may well have
      conspired to leave her attractive younger cousin - who was herself in the
      midst of a break-up of a marriage - alone for months in the same house as
      the charming and womanizing Gresham. Based on past experience, Davidman
      must have known that this would lead Gresham to temptation." (p. 248)
      [That's right, blame the victim!]

      "Gender issues are manifested complexly in Davidman's poetry." (p. 248)
      [That's the first sentence of the lit-crit part, and a first sentence like
      that is gonna be the last sentence that I read.]

      David Bratman
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