From 'It's not rocket science' to 'Marilyn Monroe reading’
B) Implies that there is something shoking with the fact that M. M. is reading
The book in her hand is Ulysses by James Joyce. Many who see the Ulysses picture seem to ask — was she actually reading it?
There is, within Monroe’s image, a deeply rooted assumption that she was an idiot, a vulnerable and kind and loving and terribly sweet idiot, but an idiot nonetheless. That is the assumption in which ‘Marilyn Monroe reading’ is entangled.
The power of the phrase Marilyn Monroe reading’ lies in its application to Monroe and in our assumption that she wouldn’t know how.
Would that everyone searching that phrase did so in the belief that her passion for the printed word rivaled their own.I see a high school dropout caught in the act of educating herself.
Imagine legions of learners loving her for her brain, with a home printed pin ups depicting her with book in hand.
Thanks MM. And thank you openculture.com for adding to the list.
Some readers comments:
1) I think Marilyn probably read a good number of the books she owned, in likelihood, given how often she was seen to be reading, to be photographed reading, to have a book in her hands in downtime. She wasn’t doing it for her image – she was quite intelligent from what I’ve read of her. I love the photographs of her reading.
2) I was a huge Marilyn fan when I was a teen. I remember trying to read Anna Karenina then because she was such a fan of it (but I did not get far at age 13:) She wanted to play that role, but was basically told it was over her head. Which was wrong, because she was also a great dramatic actress, though we remember her more for her comedies.
3) Dame Edith Stitwell visited N York. They got on well unexpectedly. These new and unlikely friends were left alone and began talking of Rudolf Steiner, whose personal history, “The Course of My Life,” Marilyn was reading at the time. Dame Edith was to remark later on Marilyn’s ‘extreme intelligence.’”
in: “Norma Jean: the Life of Marilyn Monroe,” by Fred Lawrence Guiles, McGraw-Hill Book Company: New York, 1969 (pgs. 331-332)
Marilyn Monroe’s Reading Challenge