Sunday, May 08, 2011

Unhappy Marriages in Literatures and Books

Heard of unhappy marriages in literature? Here's Guardian's books blog about unhappily married littérateurs. 

What really distinguishes an ordinarily bad marriage from a truly terribly one is the lengths to which those involved are willing to go in their unhappiness. Madame Bovary is an early archetype of the genre for this reason. Emma Bovary's response to a loveless union is the opposite of settling down with some needlework and making the best of things; there is a laudable extravagance to the way in which she sets about causing her own destruction, fitting in two failed affairs, bankruptcy and a lingering suicide before the marriage is over. Of course, being married to Charles Bovary might tempt anyone to knock back the arsenic – he is one of literature's great boring husbands, and Flaubert excels in anatomising his dullness. This is a man who never aspires to anything beyond eating a lovely piece of cheese and falling asleep. The contempt bred by familiarity is perfectly articulated in a passage in which Emma has grown so sick of Charles that she's angered just by seeing his back as he snoozes: "even his back, his tranquil back, was irritating to behold, and in the very look ... she found all the banality of the man."

The love of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath is legendary for their numerous fans. When both husband and wife are writers, there are problems with egos and bad vibes in marriages, so one assumes. So who writes good novels about failed marriages? It seems Richard Yates. Don't know the guy. Guess I have to brush up on his works. 

Hughes and Plath had a very tenuous marriage marred by Hughes' mistreatment of the sensitive Plath. In India Dom Moraes was once married to the most beautiful Leila Naidu. (But then Leila didn't write.) But they split, re-united and then split. I see Leila these days advertising gold jewelry in Kerala advertisements. Guess we Mallus need good looking women from North India to attract customers. Joking.

Other famous literary marriages in India, um, let me see... Can't think of any. Because affairs between writers have been many, but marriages there are none. The literary community is a whole lot promiscuous, but it stops at marriage. The reason being that writers can't stand each other as husband and wife in the bedroom. I am just thinking aloud. They can have affairs but not marriages. But the heart of a writer does seek some soul to share one's works with. However, it can turn out to be a nightmare when two people come together who think alike.

Amen! 

1 comment:

ms said...

years ago i read da vinci's biography and only one sentence stood out: "he married a woman who kept him in a state of cold rage for forty years till he died". what an unhappy state of affairs for a man whose works personified beauty.