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Inside The Mind of Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe: Fragments
Member Name: cyberem78
Marilyn Monroe: Fragments
Date: 30/08/13, updated on 30/08/13 (28 review reads)
Advantages: Interesting, moving, revealing.
Disadvantages: Feels uncomfortable to disover some of Marilyn's most private writings.
I bought this book, Fragments, edited by Stanley Buchthal and Bernard Comment, as a gift for my mother who is obsessed with Marilyn Monroe but after she read it I started to browse through it and couldn't stop. This is a book containing poems, intimate notes and letters written by Marilyn Monroe throughout her life. There are also some amazing photographs which are presented in high quality glossy form. It's the perfect collection for any Marilyn fan but it is equally as intriguing for me to read.
The book is beautifully presented in hardback style. The sleeve is printed with two rich colour photographs of Marilyn which both show her in reading and posing a look of intelligence. Whether Marilyn really did reach the end of James Joyce's 'Ulysses' as one picture suggests or whether she was just posing they are beautiful photographs which are obviously chosen to justify the idea that Marilyn was far more intelligent than her 'dumb sexy blonde' image suggested. The book is 235 pages long and within it are actual photographs of the notes she wrote along with the editor's best translation of the notes. There are also some printed segments such as interviews or letters. There is also an explanatory editors note at the beginning of the book. At the end of the book there are pictures of the books found in Marilyn's library after she died which include things like Hemingway's 'Farewell to Arms' and Kerouac's 'On The Road'.
Most of the book contains these little notes which look like they were written on a pocket notebook. Marilyn was apparently encouraged to write by a friend of her playwright husband Arthur Miller although she had written a little before this. Studying the actual notes is more interesting than reading the opposite page of the book where the editor's translation is printed. Marilyn's handwriting isn't always legible and what she writes is almost always scribbled over with corrections or random thoughts. Most of the notes remind me of the way I myself write when I'm composing a poem, although much of the time Marilyn's lines of poetry, random thoughts or affirmations are never structured or organised into anything that makes sense. However, the jumbles of words and ideas are stark enough to make a deep impression and real enough to reveal hidden layers of Marilyn's personality.
Many of the poems and notes contained here make for uncomfortable reading as they reveal the insecurities and traumas that afflicted Marilyn throughout her life. Her public persona was so obviously very different to the woman she was in private. Marilyn's disordered words often seem to reflect her disordered mind. The standard of her writing, her spelling mistakes and scribbling, suggest that she was muddled, drug addled or lacking basic education although the actual content of her writing suggests she craved education, was an extensive reader and was deeply philosophical in nature. There are also letters she wrote to her psychiatrist which are also quite frank when it comes to her describing her personal relationships and emotions which are upsetting to read. There are a few items included in the book which I feel were unnecessary to show the public though, such as a recipe for a chicken based meal or a 'to do' list.
Many of the writings refer back to her public persona and reveal the terrible doubts and fears related to that. Lines like "how will I cope when I am even less youthful" and "my body is my body, every part of it" make you realise the kind of pressure this woman must have been under whilst in the public eye. Most of these written lines such as: "Alone!!!!!! I am alone - I am always alone no matter what" feel like utterances that she couldn't say to anyone aloud and so had to write them down.
There are also some interesting revelations about the working life of Marilyn since much of what she writes relates to her work as an actress. There is an obvious desire to improve her ability and refine her art and she often re-writes her lines from scripts, instructs herself to behave in a certain manner whilst working, or remembers instructions or quotes from acting teachers or directors. It's a fascinating insight into her thought processes.
Reading Marilyn's notes, poems and letters gives you a real sense of who she really was and what her life was like from an early age until just before her death. The notes reflect on feelings she has as a child at an orphanage and also how she worries about losing the love of her third husband. Although many of the notes don't make sense or read like abstract poems I found myself drawn to aspects of how they were written and the random, fragmented thoughts she captured. I also found myself fascinated by things like a page where Marilyn had doodled 21 faces which all had Marilyn style eyelashes. Overall this collection feels like the echo of a human soul and it's very curious and very moving.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone although I think it would appeal most to anyone who has a mild interest in Marilyn Monroe to begin with. It costs around £10 and it's certainly worth that.
Summary: Very revealing.
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