Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bad (Literary) Romance

What do Vita Sackville West, W.E.B. Du Bois, Sylvia Plath and Norman Mailer have in common? They were all parts of romantic matches that proved to be less than sterling: sometimes with disastrous results.

In one of those irritating slideshows designed to up page count, Flavorwire peeks at the romantic lives of seven couples culled from the pages of Katie Roiphe’s 2007 book, Uncommon Arrangements:
Writers who marry or woo other writers -- it’s a bold move, considering the egos involved and the social isolation necessary to get a decent amount of good work done. And yet the authors below tried to make it work; some stayed together for months and some were even able to make it last years.
Ernest Hemingway and journalist Martha Gellhorn (pictured above left) are among these. “I weep for the eight years I spent… worshipping his image with him,” Gelhorn would write years later, “and I weep for whatever else I was cheated of due to that time-serving.”

But one of the best entries marks the relationship between Rebecca West and H.G. Wells consists entirely of a 1913 letter from West to Wells. “During the next few days,” West begins, “I shall either put a bullet through my head or commit something more shattering to myself than death.”

Bad romance, indeed!


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