the silent woman (2)

The Silent Woman, pagina 65:

‘Steiner's ambivalence, his “yes, but” verdict on “Daddy” is a characteristic response to Plath's work and to her persona. We praise her (those of us who do not condemn or dismiss her), but then we draw back. We retract some of our praise. Like Steiner, we're not sure where we stand with her. “Why doesn't she say something?” Olwyn asked. Like the life, the work is full of threatening silences. It is beautiful and severe and very cold. It is surrealistic, with surrealism's menace and refusal to explain itself. We stand before the Ariel poems as Olwyn stood before the stone-faced Sylvia. We feel humbled and rebuked, as if we were the “little, stumpy people” Plath saw in the hospital, or the herbivores she writes of in her poem “Mystic”, “whose hopes are so low they are comfortable.” To speak of Plath's overdrawing her right to our sympathy isn't accurate. Plath never asks for our sympathy; she would not stoop to it. The voice of the “true self” is notable for its high notes of disdain—and its profound melancholy. The “tortured and massacred” are never far from Plath's thoughts. (She is reported to have said to the Scottish poet George MacBeth, “I see you have a concentration camp in your mind, too.”) To say that Plath did not earn her right to invoke the names of Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen [in haar gedicht “Daddy”] is off the mark. It is we who stand accused, who fall short, who have not accepted the wager of imagining the unimaginable, of cracking Plath's code of atrocity.

(Schuingedrukte zinnen zijn door mij gecursiveerd.)

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