Tuesday 23 May 2017

A spluttering backlash may be fun, but it means nothing

The angry over-reaction to mistakes in public life shows us how silly the world has become, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

ARE WE OBSESSED WITH THE SINGER OR THEIR SONG? Clockwise from main photo, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, Sean Spicer, and Oscar Wilde
ARE WE OBSESSED WITH THE SINGER OR THEIR SONG? Clockwise from main photo, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, Sean Spicer, and Oscar Wilde

Eilis O'Hanlon

Newly discovered letters from poet Sylvia Plath describe how she was a victim of domestic violence by Ted Hughes, her then husband and Britain's future Poet Laureate.

His widow, Carol, has described the claims, made to Plath's former therapist, as "absurd as they are shocking to anyone who knew Ted well"; but what's really absurd is Carol Hughes's claim to have any more insight into her husband's relationship with Plath than any other outsider. It can hardly be said that Plath was not someone "who knew Ted well". She knew him only too well. She just happened to know a different man to the one that Carol married.

Ultimately, though, what does it matter, except to give some writers another opportunity to wax lyrical about "toxic masculinity", or berate the tendency to worship male artists, no matter what they've done to the women in their lives?

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