Friday, March 19, 2021

"Philoctetes / in woman's form": André Gide in Adrienne Rich's "Twenty-One Love Poems"

In "Twenty-One Love Poems" (1976), Adrienne Rich recalls herself in Greece with "an infected foot, Philoctetes / in woman's form", with suicidal thoughts she now rejects as "the temptation to make a career of pain." Kevin McGuirk connects Rich's Philoctetes with Andre Gide's 1898 play about him as a heroic solitary artist and argues that "the Philoctetes of Gide [...] would be anathema to the feminist Rich." But Rich earlier brings up Gide herself as a homosexual "vilified" by Paul Claudel, as Swift "loathed" and Goethe "dreaded" women. When Gide's Philoctetes resists "the demands of others" influencing his words, Rich shares his resistance to a heterosexual masculinist tradition that silences others. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 19 March 2021)


File:André Gide 1908 Théo Van Rysselberghe.jpg
André Gide, 1908

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