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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Eleanor Bergstein and Sylvia Plath -- Part 3

This post continues from Part 1 and Part 2.


At the end of Part 2, I reported that Jonathan Bate, a preeminent scholar of English literature, calls Ted Hughes "one of the two or three greatest poets of the Twentieth Century".

Sylvia Plath, herself an excellent poet, recognized that she never would be able to keep pace with her husband Ted's achievements in poetry.

One of Hughes' greatest achievements was his book Tales From Ovid, published in 1997. The book provides a poetic paraphrase translation of many poems from the Latin poet Ovid's major work Metamorphoses. Ovid's work is the source of many mythological stories that have become famous in the literature of Western Civilization.

Soon after the book was published, I noticed it in the New Books section of my local library. It intended to just browse through it, but I found myself reading, with continual delight, all 250 pages. Later I bought a copy but have not reread it until now.

So that my readers will appreciate Hughes' poetic talent, I will provide here some excerpts from his Tales from Ovid.

Creation; Four Ages; Lycaon; Flood

Now I am ready to tell how bodies are changed
into different bodies.

I summon the supernatural beings
Who first contrived
The transmorgrifications
In the stuff of life.
You did it for your own amusement.
Descend again, be pleased to reanimate
This revival of those marvels.
Reveal, now, exactly
How they were performed
From the beginning
Up to his moment.

Before sea or land, before even sky
Which contains all,
Nature wore only one mask --
Since called Chaos.
A huge agglomeration of upset.
A bolus of everything -- but
As if aborted.
And the total arsenal of entropy
Already at war within it.

No sun showed one thing to another,
No moon
Played her phases in heaven,
No earth
Spun in empty air on her own magnet,
No ocean
Basked or roamed on the long beaches.

Land, sea, air, were all there
But not to be trodden, or swum in.
Air was simply darkness.
Everything fluid or vapour, form formless.
Each thing hostile
To every other thing: at every point
Hot fought cold, most dry, soft hard, and the weightless
Resisted weight.

God, or some such artist as resourceful,
Began to sort it out.
Land her, sky there,
And sea there.
Up there, the heavenly stratosphere.
Down her, the cloudy, the windy.
He gave to each its place,
Independent, gazing about freshly.
Also resonating --
Each one a harmonic of the others,
Just like the strings
That would resound, one day, in the dome of the tortoise.


One time, Jupiter, happy to be idle,
Swept the cosmic mystery aside
And draining another goblet of ambrosia
Teased Juno, who drowsed in bliss beside him:
"This love of male and female's a strange business.
Fifty-fifty investment in the madness,
Yet she ends up with nine-tenths of the pleasure."

Juno's answer was: "A man might think so.
It needs more than a mushroom in your cup
To wake a wisdom that can fathom which
Enjoys the deeper pleasure, man or woman.
It needs the solid knowledge of a soul
Who having lived and loved in woman's body
Has also lived and loved in the body of a man."

 Jupiter laughed aloud: "We have the answer.
There is a fellow called Tiresias.
Strolling to watch the birds and hear the bees
He came across two serpents copulating.
He took the opportunity to kill
Both with a single blow, but merely hurt them --
And found himself transformed into a woman.

"After the seventh year of womanhood,
Strolling to ponder on what women ponder
She saw in that same place the same two serpents
Knotted as before in copulation.
"If your pain can still change your attacker
Just as you once changed me, then change me back."
She hit the couple with a handy stick,

"And there he stood as male as any man."
"He'll explain," cried Juno, "why you are
Slave to your irresistible addiction
While the poor nymphs you force to share it with you
Do all they can to shun it." Jupiter
Asked Tiresias: "In their act of love
Who takes the greater pleasure, man or woman?"

"Woman," replied Tiresias, "takes nine-tenths."
Juno was so angry -- angrier
Than is easily understandable --
She struck Tiresias and blinded him.
"You've seen your last pretty snake, for ever."
But Jove consoled him: "That same blow," he said,
"Has opened your inner eye, like a nightscope. See:

"The secrets of the future -- they are yours."

Echo and Narcissus

When the prophetic vision awoke
Behind the blind eyes of Tiresias
And stared into the future,

The first to test how deeply he saw
And how lucidly
Was Liriope, a swarthy nymph of the fountain.

She was swept off her feet by the river Cephisus
Who rolled her into the bed of a dark pool,
Then cast her up on the shingle pregnant.

The boy she bore, even in his cradle,
Had a beauty that broke hearts.
She named this child Narcissus. Gossips

Came to Tiresias: "Can her boy live long
With such perfect beauty?" The seer replied:
"Yes, unless he learns to know himself."


In his sixteenth year Narcissus,
Still a slender boy but already a man,
Infatuated many. His beauty had flowered,
But something glassy about it, a pride,
Kept all his admirers at a distance.
None dared be familiar, let alone touch him.


One of these [nymphs], mocked and rejected,
Lifted his hands to heaven:
"Let Narcissus love and suffer
As he has made us suffer.
Let him, like us, love and know it is hopeless.
And let him, like Echo, perish of anguish."
Nemesis, the corrector,
Heard this prayer and granted it.

There is a pool of prefect water.
No shepherd had ever driven sheep
To trample the margins. No cattle
Had slobbered there muzzles in it
And befouled it.
No bird had ever paddled there preening and bathing.
Only surrounding grasses drank its moisture
And though the arching trees kept it cool
No twigs rotted in it, and no leaves.

Weary with hunting and the hot sun
Narcissus found this pool.
Gratefully he stretched out full length
To cup his hands in the clear cold
And to drink. But as he drank
A strange new thirst, a craving, unfamiliar,
Entered his body with the water,
And entered his eyes
With the reflection in the limpid mirror.
He cold not believe the beauty
Of those eyes that gazed into his own.
As the taste of water flooded him
So did love. So he lay, mistaking
That picture of himself on the meniscus
For the stranger who could make him happy.

He lay, like a fallen garden statue,
Gaze fixed on his image in the water,
Comparing it to Bacchus or Apollo,
Falling deeper and deeper in love
With what so many had loved so hopelessly.
Not recognizing himself
He wanted only himself. He had chosen
From all the faces he had ever seen
Only his own. He was himself
The torturer who now began his torture.




Midas said: "Here is my wish.
Let whatever I touch become gold.
Yes, gold, the finest, the purest, the brightest."
Bacchus gazed at the King and sighed gently.
He felt pity --
Yet his curiosity was intrigued
To see how such stupidity would be punished.
So he granted the wish, then stood back to watch.

The Phrigian King returned through the garden
Eager to test the power -- yet apprehensive
That he had merely dreamed and now was awake,
Where alchemy never works. He broke a twig
From a low branch of oak. The leaves
Turned to heavy gold as he stared at them
And his mouth went dry.


He fell on his bed, ace down, eyes closed
From the golden heavy fold of his pillow.
He prayed
To the god who had given him the gift
To take it back. "I have been a fool.
Forgive me, Bacchus. Forgive the greed
That made me so stupid.
Forgive me for a dream
That had not touched the world
Where gold is gold and nothing but.
Save me from my own shallowness,
Where I shall drown in gold
And be buried in gold.
Nothing can live, I see, in a world of gold."

Bacchus, too, had had enough.
His kindliness came uppermost easily.
"I return you," said the god,
"To your happier human limitations ...


Midas never got over the shock.
The sight of gold was like the thought of a bee
To one just badly stung --
It made his hair prickle, his nerves tingle.
He retired to the mountain woods
And a life of deliberate poverty. There
He worshiped Pan, who lives in the mountain caves.
King Midas was chastened
But not really changed. He was not wiser.
His stupidity
Was merely lying low. Waiting, as usual,
For another chance to ruin his life.


Pan lives in a high cave on that cliff.
He was amusing himself,
Showing off to the nymphs,
Thrilling them out of their airy bodies
With the wild airs
He breathed through the reeds of his flute.
Their ecstasies flattered him,
Their words, their exclamations, flattered him.
But the flattered
Become fools. And when he assured them
That Apollo, no less,
Stole his tunes and rearranged his rhythms
It was a shock
For Pan
to find himself staring at the great god
Hanging there in the air off the cave mouth,
Half eclipsed with black rage,
Half beaming with a friendly challenge.
"Tmolus, the mountain," suggested the god, "can judge us."

Tmolus shook out his hair,
Freed his ears of bushes, trees, birds, insects,
Then took his place at the seat of judgment,
Binding his wig with a whole oak tree --
The acorns clustering over his eyebrows,
And announced to Pan: "Your music first."

It so happened
Midas was within hearing
Collecting nuts and berries. Suddenly he heard
Music that froze him immobile
As long as it lasted. He did not know
What happened to him as Pan's piping
Carried him off --
Filled him with precipices,
Lifted him on weathered summits,
Poured blue icy rivers through him,
Hung him from the stars,
Replaced him
With the flourescent earth
Spinning and dancing on the jet of a fountain.

[.... Apollo plays music, favored by Tmolus ...]

Pan was humbled. Yes, he agreed --
Apollo was the master. Tmolus was correct.
The nymphs gazed at Apollo. They agreed.
But then a petulant voice,
A hard-angled, indignant differing voice
Came from behind a rock.

Midas stood up. "The judgement," he cried,
"Is ignorant, stupid, and merely favours power.
Apollo's efforts
Are nothing but interior decoration
By artificial light, for the chic, the effete.
Pan is the real thing -- the true voice
Of the subatomic.

Apollo's face seemed to writhe
As he converted this clown's darkness to light,
Then pointed his plectrum at the ears
 That had misheard so grievously.
Abruptly those ears lolled long and animal,
On either side of Midas' impertinent face.
Revolving at the root, grey-whiskered, bristly,
The familiar ears of a big ass.
The King,
Feeling the change, grabbed to hang on to his ears,
Then he had some seconds of pure terror
Waiting for the rest of his body to follow.
But the ears used up the power of the plectrum.
This was the god's decision. The King
Lived on, human, wagging the ears of a donkey.


In the mid-1990s Hughes -- as the salaried Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom -- was trying, successfully, to popularize poetry among his country's people. With his translation of Ovid -- paraphrased into simple, casual English -- he introduced or re-introduced many English readers to a poetic, fundamental masterpiece of Western Civilization.

Hughes devoted his entire life to inspiring English-readers with poetry. He was able to do so -- for many years in his early career -- because he had a supportive, poetic wife, Sylvia Plath.


In the following video clip from the movie Sylvia, the character who enters at 3:50 is A. Alvarez, the poet who after Plath's suicide would write the book The Savage God: A Study of Suicide, published in 1972.

I think that it's likely that Eleanor Bergstein and her husband, poet Michael Goldman, read The Savage God soon after it was published.


I will continue this article in Part 4.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Wierdos Wasting Our Time - 10

Eleanor Bergstein and Sylvia Plath -- Part 2

This post continues Eleanor Bergstein and Sylvia Plath -- Part 1.


This all is my mere speculation. I do not know whether Eleanor Bergstein ever read anything by or about Sylvia Plath.


Sylvia Plath's novel The Bell Jar was published in the United Kingdom in 1963 but was not published in the USA until 1971.

Bergstein's first novel, Advancing Paul Newman, was published in 1973, so Bergstein probably finished writing the manuscript during 1972. So, in the early 1970s, Bergstein was beginning to develop the story for her second novel.

In the early 1970s, two books about Plath were published.


The Savage God, by A. Alvarez, published in 1972, was a book about artists who committed suicide, and much of the book was about Plath.

"The Savage God", by A. Alvarez, 1972

Sylvia Plath, by Eileen Aird, published in 1973, was the first book-length biography of Plath.

"Sylvia Plath", by Eileen Aird, published in 1973

The Savage God, by Alvarez -- an English poet, novelist and literary critic -- was especially influential. Alvarez was a close friend of Plath and of her husband Ted Hughes. Alvarez himself was a suicidal poet. A book review by essayist James H. Brown about The Savage God included the following passages:
.... Alvarez is a distinguished English poet, literary critic and author. The book is very well written and displays an easy mastery of the relevant literary and historical scholarship. It is a gripping work, and deserves to be read and reread simply for its fund of information and insight, and the skill with which they are presented. ... He seems to be looking ... for a metaphysical (or perhaps literary) answer to the problem of suicide, and before the end of the volume he sketches a theory about suicide in poets.

The book consists of a prologue, which is an account of the author's personal acquaintance with the poet Sylvia Plath and her husband Ted Hughes, during the period leading up to Sylvia Plath's suicide; a review of some historical attitudes to suicide; a review of some of the current psychological, sociological and other data and theories on suicide (some of this unduly dismissive); a review of suicide and literature, particularly English poetry, concluding with a discussion of the "extremist" modem English poets (e.g. Lowell, Berryman, Hughes and Plath); and an epilogue, which is a description of the author's own suicidal attempt.

The largest, most coherent arid most luminous of these parts is the review of suicide and literature. At the conclusion of this the author, relying heavily on his brief accounts of Sylvia Plath and of the "extremist" poets, puts forward his view that this difficult poetic style is so demanding that it carries unusual psychic risks for its practitioners. ...

Alvarez's description of his own suicidal attempt, in contrast with his description of Sylvia Plath's suicide, makes no attempt to derive the episode from his life as a poet and writer. He speculates briefly about intrapsychic problems stemming from early childhood; refers elliptically to current personal and marital problems; and then describes a descent into a state of profound depression complicated by alcoholic excess, with increasingly frequent suicidal preoccupation and planning, culminating in an overdose of sleeping pills taken during an alcoholic blackout on Christmas Day. His life was seriously endangered. The crisis was apparently followed by complete and rapid recovery, so that by New Year's Day he was free of depressive symptoms and suicidal preoccupations alike.
In April 1972 The New York Times printed a long excerpt about Plath's suicide.
Why, then, did she kill herself? In part, I suppose, it was "a cry for help" which fatally misfired. But it was also a last desperate attempt to exorcise the death she had summed up in her poems.
I have already suggested that perhaps she had begun to write obsessively about death for two reasons.
First, when she and her husband separated, however mutual the arrangement, she again went through the same piercing grief and bereavement she had felt as a child when her father, by his death, seemed to abandon her.

Second, I believe she thought her car crash the previous summer had set her free; she had paid her dues, qualified as a survivor and could now write about it.
But as I have written elsewhere, for the artist himself art is not necessarily therapeutic; he is not automatically relieved of his fantasies by expressing them. Instead, by some perverse logic of creation, the act of formal expression may simply make the dredged-up material more readily available to him.

The result of handling it in his work may well be that he finds himself living it out. For the artist, in short, nature often imitates art. Or, to change the clichè, when an artist holds up a mirror to nature he finds out who and what he is; but the knowledge may change him irredeemably so that he becomes that image.

I think Sylvia, in one way or another, sensed this. In an introductory note she wrote to "Daddy" for the B.B.C., she said of the poem's narrator, "She has to act out the awful little allegory once over before she is free of it." The allegory in question was, as she saw it, the struggle in her between a fantasy Nazi father and a Jewish mother. But perhaps it was also a fantasy of containing in herself her own dead father, like a woman possessed by a demon (in the poem she actually calls him a vampire). In order for her to be free from him, he had to be released like a genie from a bottle.

And this is precisely what the poems did; they bodied forth the death within her. But they also did so in an intensely living and creative way. The more she wrote about death, the stronger and more fertile her imaginative world became. And this gave her everything to live for.

I suspect that in the end she wanted to have done with the theme once and for all. But the only way she could find was "to act out the awful little allegory once over."

She had always been a bit of a gambler, used to taking risks. The authority of her poetry was in part due to her brave persistence in following the thread of her inspiration right down to the Minotaur's lair. And this psychic courage had its parallel in her physical arrogance and carelessness. Risks didn't fright her; on the contrary, she found them stimulating. Freud has written: "Life loses in interest when the highest stake in the games of living, life itself, may not be risked." Finally, Sylvia took that risk. She gambled for the last time, having worked out that the odds were in her favor, but perhaps, in her depression, not much caring whether she won or lost. Her calculations went wrong and she lost.

It was a mistake, then, and out of it a whole myth has grown. I don't think she would have found it much to her taste, since it is a myth of the poet as a sacrificial victim, offering herself up for the sake of her art, having been dragged by the Muses of that final altar through every kind of distress. In these terms, her suicide becomes the whole point of the story, the act which validates her poems, given them their interest and proves her seriousness.

So people are drawn to her work in much the same spirit as Time magazine featured her at length: not for the poetry but for the gossipy, extra-literary "human interest." Yet just as the suicide adds nothing at all to the poetry, so the myth of Sylvia as a passive victim is a total perversion of the woman she was. It misses altogether her liveliness, her intellectual appetite and harsh wit, her great imaginative resourcefulness and vehemence of feeling, her control.

Above all, it misses the courage with which she was able to turn disaster into art. The pity is not that there is a myth of Sylvia Plath, but that the myth is not simply that of an enormously gifted poet whose death came carelessly, by mistake and too soon.

It's very likely that Eleanor Bergstein -- the wife of poet Michael Goldman, a professor of English at Princeton University -- was very interested by the publication of The Bell Jar and of these books about Plath in the early 1970s, when Bergstein was developing the story for her second novel.

Of course, in the early 1970s Plath was only one of many feminist writers who interested and influenced people. I speculate, however, that the tragic story of the Plath-Hughes marriage especially touched Bergstein, a female writer married to a male writer.


Bergstein's second novel, which she was writing during the mid-1970s, never has been published, so I can only speculate about its story. In my previous post in this series, I speculated that the story was about the relationship between a female mathematics professor and a male mathematics professor. This relationship might have corresponded roughly to novelist Bergstein's own relationship with her poet husband, a university professor.

Bergstein wrote about mathematics professors (I speculated) because Esther Greenwood, the heroine of Plath's novel The Bell Jar, gave her virginity to a man named Irwin, a mathematics professor at Harvard University. Perhaps Bergstein's second novel somewhat imagined that Esther eventually became a mathematician and continued her relationship with Irwin.

After Bergstein abandoned this novel, she wrote the screenplay for the movie It's My Turn, released in 1980, about a female mathematics professor and a retired professional baseball player. I speculate that Bergstein converted her novel's male mathematics professor into the movie's baseball player in order to broaden her story's appeal.


No matter whether Bergstein's second novel was about a couple of mathematics professors.

Between Bergstein's 1973 novel, Advancing Paul Newman, and her 1980 movie, It's My Turn, her focus shifted from a female-female conflict to a female-male conflict.
In Advancing Paul Newman, the conflict is between  two young women -- Kitsy Frank and Ilia Rappaport. Kitsy get married to a professionally successful man and becomes a housewife and mother. In contrast, Ilia has an endless series of brief affairs and struggles to earn a living as a free-lance photographer.

In It's My Turn, the conflict is between a woman and a man -- Kate Gunzinger and Ben Lewin. Kate aspires to make a major breakthrough in mathematics. Ben had to retire as a professional athlete because of a shoulder injury and now he is trying to start a new career as an inspirational speaker.
The conflict in It's My Turn is that Kate is troubled by feelings of inferiority and insecurity in relation to men whereas Ben feels blithely confident and aggressive in relation to women. Kate is seduced easily by Ben, despite various circumstances that should have inhibited her from succumbing sexually to him.

It's My Turn  is a lousy movie, but it provides some insight into Bergstein's concerns as a writer during the mid-1970s. Bergstein loved and admired men (especially her father), but she resented the sexual and social realities that enabled men to excel professionally over women and to enjoy relatively satisfactory lives.

The battle of the sexes was not fair!


Sylvia Plath (born in 1932) was only about two years younger than Ted Hughes (born in 1938), but she was clearly subordinate to him in their relationship. His reputation as a poet was better, and he earned an income as a professional writer for BBC. She got stuck at home, giving birth and raising babies.

In the following video clip from the movie Sylvia, she expresses her anxiety and resentment in relation to him, as he lectures to her about how she should improve herself as a poet.

The following video shows more excerpts from the movie.


The following video shows Jonathan Bate, a preeminent scholar of English literature, talking about a biography he wrote, The Unauthorized Life of Ted Hughes. In the video, Bates calls Hughes "one of the two or three greatest poets of the Twentieth Century".


The following video shows a lecture about the Plath-Hughes poetry-writing collaboration, titled "Poetry and Co-dependency: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath", read by Professor Belinda Jack, a teacher at Oxford University.


This article continues in Part 3.

Vive la "Danse Sale" - 2

More videos from France, continued from my previous post.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Vive la "Danse Sale" - 1

Today I looked at some Blogger statistics about my blog and I saw that most of my recent pageviews come from France. Quelle surprise that was for me!

I love France!

To show my appréciation, I am going to post some French videos.

Eleanor Bergstein and Sylvia Plath -- Part 1

Eleanor Bergstein, the screenwriter of the movie Dirty Dancing, was born in 1938, about six years after the birth in 1932 of Sylvia Plath, the author of the novel The Bell Jar.

Plath's novel was published in the United Kingdom on January 14, 1963. Plath -- the mother of two young children -- committed suicide about a month later, on February 11, 1963.

Sylvia Plath in 1963, a short time before she committed suicide
Almost exactly six months after Plath's suicide, the Houseman family in Bergstein's movie arrived at Kellerman's Mountain House.

Although The Bell Jar was published in the UK in 1963, it was not published in the USA until 1971.

Bergstein's first novel, Advancing Paul Newman, was published in 1973, so Bergstein probably finished writing the manuscript during 1972. I speculate that soon after Bergstein finished her manuscript, she read The Bell Jar and was significantly influenced by it as she thought about writing her own next novel.


I have no direct evidence that Bergstein ever read The Bell Jar. My speculation is based on only a few, scattered bits of evidence and on my deductive reasoning.

I might be compared to a paleontologist constructing an entire dinosaur's appearance from just a few teeth and bones.

My collection of evidence

All my evidence

My construction from my evidence

Bergstein and Plath both were writers who were married to talented poets.
* Bergstein is married to Michael Goldman, a poet who enjoyed a career of teaching English at Princeton University. (I do not know when they married, when he began to teach at Princeton or whether they have children.)

* Plath was married to Ted Hughes, a poet. In the early 1960s he was employed as a writer for the British Broadcasting Corporation. In  later years he made his living by writing and publishing poetry. In 1984 he became the UK's poet laureate, which was a paid position. He inherited Plath's copyright to The Bell Jar -- more than three million copies of which have been sold.
Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes and their child

Compare the following passages from the beginnings of The Bell Jar and of Dirty Dancing.
It was a queer, sultry summer -- the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs -- and I didn't know what I was doing in New York City.
... and ...
That was the summer of 1963, when everybody called me "Baby", and it didn't occur to me to mind. That was before President Kennedy was shot. ... That was the summer we went to Kellerman's.
The Rosenbergs in the Plath's passage were a couple of Jewish-Americans who had been convicted for espionage and were executed on June 11, 1953.

Both passages, with similar structures and cadences, set the stories in the summertime, shortly before sensational political killings. The killings were famous enough that people reading The Bell Jar in 1963 immediately placed the novel's story in the year 1953, just as people watching Dirty Dancing in 1987 immediately placed  the movie's story in the year 1963.

The Plath passage is spoken at 1:00 in the following trailer for a movie adaption of The Bell Jar.


The Bell Jar is about a young woman, Esther Greenwood, who wants to become a writer. In the summer of 1953 she has just finished her junior year at Smith College, a woman's college in Massachusetts. Smith College is about about 20 miles from Mount Holyoke College, which Baby Houseman would begin to attend after her eventful summer of 1963.

Esther has a boyfriend, Buddy Willard, who is a pre-med student at Yale University (just like Robby Gould) and who has a sexual affair with a waitress. Esther gets revenge on Buddy by giving her own virginity to a Harvard mathematics professor named Irwin.


After Bergstein' novel Advancing Paul Newman was published in 1973, a movie director named Claudia Weill who liked the novel asked Bergstein to write a screenplay. For several years, Bergstein turned down Weill's requests, saying she was too busy writing her second novel. Eventually in about 1977, however, Bergstein relented and agreed to write a screenplay. In an earlier post, I quoted from a magazine article that had reported about the Bergstein-Weill collaboration.
... [in 1973], Claudia Weill, who was making documentaries, read a political novel called Advancing Paul Newman, which was about two girls in the Sixties. Weill contacted the author, Eleanor Bergstein, and asked if she would like to write a screenplay .... Bergstein, who had started her second novel, wasn't interested.

"Eleanor is a knockout writer," says Weill ....  I bugged Eleanor for years." ....

Weill called Bergstein [in about 1977] and told her about a project that she thought would fulfill her [Bergstein's] conditions. There would be a one-in-three chance of production, a $200,000 grant if produced, the work would be shown on educational television, and there might be a limited theatrical release. .... Bergstein had finished a draft of her [second] novel ....

Bergstein and Weill sat down to discuss what they could do with $200,000 in terms of setups and locations. Then Bergstein and her husband, Michael Goldman (an author and professor of Shakespeare, modern drama and poetry at Princeton), leased a house in Vermont, and she went to work.
Although the above passage mentions that Bergstein "had finished a draft of her [second] novel", that novel never has been published.


I speculate that Bergstein's never-published novel was about a love affair between two mathematics professors at a university. After working on this novel for several years, Bergstein realized that this novel never would interest any publishers, and so she gave up.

However (I speculate), Bergstein did use some elements of her abandoned novel in the screenplay she wrote for Weill. Eventually the screenplay became the movie It's My Turn, which was released in 1980.

This movie's main female character, Kate Gunzinger, is a mathematics professor at a university. The movie's main male character is Ben Lewin, a retired professional baseball player, but I speculate that the novel's main character was likewise a mathematics professor.

Kate is an unusual woman trying to make a career in the male-dominated academic field of mathematics. She apparently fears that women are naturally inferior in advanced mathematics. The following scene shows Kate apparently being corrected and surpassed by one of her male students.

In the above-quoted article about he Bergstein-Weill collaboration, Bergstein her interest in mathematicians who succeeded in making important advances in mathematics.
I thought about mathematicians and how most of them, from Einstein on down, do their best work and have their major breakthroughs in their early twenties, or certainly before the age of thirty. They can go on to do good work, but it is usually based on that original insight."
The movie character Kate aspires not merely to teach mathematics to university students, but rather to make a major breakthrough in mathematics in competition with her fellow professional mathematicians. Despite such a lofty ambition, however, she fears that she was hired by the university because she is a female token whose mere presence can help the university satisfy the affirmative-action requirements imposed by the government.

In Bergstein's abandoned novel (I speculate), the mathematics professor Kate had a competitive relationship with a male mathematics professor, and this relationship developed into a love affair.  In the movie, Kate has a competitive relationship with a retired professional baseball player, and this relationship develops into a love affair.

An important part of Bergstein's story about a female-male competitive relationship is that the females suffer various disadvantages. Women spend much of their time and energy raising children, maintaining the family households and providing emotional support to their husbands. It's no wonder that men succeed professionally far more than women do.

It's not fair!


Why did Bergstein waste years of her life writing a dopey novel about a love affair between a couple of mathematics professors? I speculate that she did so for the following reasons:
In her own life, Bergstein was an aspiring writer married to a talented poet, and she resented that his writing accomplishments eventually would excel hers by far.

Bergstein compared 1) her own resentful relationship with her own poet husband Goldman and 2) Plath's tragic relationship with her poet husband Hughes. Plath's writing career was impeded by her having to raise two children and serve her husband, while Hughes was rather free to spend his time and energy on his writing.

In The Bell Jar, Esther is infatuated briefly with a Harvard mathematics professor so much that she surrenders her virginity to him. She does not save her virginity for her long-time boyfriend, the pre-med student at Yale.

Instead of writing her novel about a couple of competing poets, she was inspired by The Bell Jar to write instead about a couple of mathematicians.
So, that is my speculation about the novel that Bergstein abandoned right before she wrote the screenplay for It's My Turn.


An important and repeated theme in Bergstein's body of works is that women are disadvantaged in competing with men because women get stuck raising children, maintaining the family households and providing emotional support to their husbands. That's a big reason why the right to abort pregnancies is so important to Bergstein.

Because Bergstein felt strongly about those issues, she would have been affected emotionally by the Bell Jar character Esther's fear of becoming pregnant. The novel's Chapter 6, which focuses on Esther's apprehensions about sex and childbirth, is summarized by the SparkNotes website as follows:
Esther continues to remember the progression of her relationship with Buddy. She went to visit him at Yale Medical School, and since she had been asking to see interesting sights at the hospital, he showed her cadavers and fetuses in jars, which she viewed calmly.

They attended a lecture on diseases, and then went to see a baby being born. Buddy and his friend Will joked that Esther should not watch the birth, or she would never want to have a baby. Buddy told her that the woman had been given a drug, and would not remember her pain. Esther thought the drug sounded exactly like something invented by a man. She hated the idea that the drug tricks the woman into forgetting her pain. The woman had to be cut in order to free the baby, and the sight of the blood and the birth upset Esther, although she said nothing to Buddy.

After the birth, they went to Buddy’s room, where Buddy asked Esther if she had ever seen a naked man. She said no, and he asked if she would like to see him naked. She agreed, and he took off his pants. The sight of him naked made her think of “turkey neck and turkey gizzards,” and she felt depressed.

She refused to let him see her naked, and then asked him if he had ever slept with a woman, expecting him to say that he was saving himself for marriage. He confessed to sleeping with a waitress named Gladys at a summer job in Cape Cod. He claimed she seduced him, and admitted that they slept together for ten weeks.

Esther was not bothered by the idea that Buddy slept with someone, but was angry that he hypocritically presented himself as virginal and innocent. Esther asked students at her college what they would think if a boy they had been dating confessed to sleeping with someone, and they said a woman could not be angry unless she were pinned or engaged.

When she asked Buddy what his mother thought of the affair, Buddy said he told his mother, “Gladys was free, white, and twenty-one.”

Esther decided to break up with Buddy ....
Here Esther experiences a lot of resentment about the advantages that males enjoy over women, who have to remain virgins until marriage, have to sexually submit their own beautiful female bodies to physically repulsive male bodies, and have to give birth afterwards. It's not fair!

Later, in the novel's Chapter 18, Esther decides to even the field somewhat in her own personal battle between the sexes.
Esther had told Dr. Nolan [a woman] that she wants the kind of freedom that men have, but she feels that the threat of pregnancy hangs over her. Esther told Dr. Nolan about the pamphlet on chastity her mother sent her, and Dr. Nolan laughed, called it propaganda, and gave her the name of a doctor who would help her.

Esther goes to the doctor to get fitted for a diaphragm. In the waiting room, she observes the women with babies and wonders at her own lack of maternal instinct. The doctor is cheerfully unobtrusive, and as he fits her Esther thinks delightedly that she is gaining freedom from fear and freedom from marrying the wrong person. Her birth control acquired, Esther wants to find the right man with whom to lose her virginity. ....

Esther continues to sort out her feelings about men, recognizing the truth of what Dr. Nolan says: many women lack tenderness in their relationships with men. Esther continues to feel she needs to lose her virginity in order to mark her rejection of the conventional expectation that she will remain “pure” for her husband.

For various reasons, The Bell Jar was a novel that surely would have interested Bergstein. It's likely that she read the novel soon after it was published in the USA in 1971. The novel was written by an aspiring female writer, like Bergstein herself, who was married to a talented poet. Bergstein's reading of The Bell Jar would have influenced her as she was writing her second novel during the mid-1970s.

Bergstein's second novel never has been published, but we can speculate that important elements of that unpublished novel were included in the subsequent screenplay that she wrote for the movie It's My Turn, which was released in 1980.

I cannot prove that Bergstein ever read The Bell Jar, but a few of that novel's details resonate with Dirty Dancing.
* The passages setting each story in the summer, before a sensational political killing.

* The main female characters attend all-women colleges in Massachusetts.

* The pre-med students -- Buddy and Robbie -- attending Yale university and enjoying pre-marital sex.

* In the novel, the pre-med student has sex with a waitress during a summer. In the movie, he is a summertime waiter.
More generally, Plath and Bergstein share a strong resentment toward the disadvantages that a female writer suffers in a relationship with a writer husband -- more particularly toward a husband who is a talented poet.

Being a poet is a rarified occupation in which only a very few people can earn respect, fame and a decent income. In that regard, poets are similar to mathematicians.

In theory, women should be able to compete well against men in the fields of poetry and mathematics, but in fact, men rise overwhelmingly to the very tops of those two professions. Women's resentment about their sexual disadvantages in competing against men professionally is a major theme in the works of both Plath and Bergstein.


One of Plath's poems, titled The Death of Myth-Making, expresses her resentment that a man (a steed) enjoys various advantages over a woman (a nag) enjoys in the occupation of writing poems (myth-making).
Two virtues ride, by stallion, by nag,
To grind our knives and scissors:
Lantern-jaw Reason, squat Common Sense.
One courting doctors of all sorts,
One, housewives and shopkeepers.

The trees are lopped, the poodles trim,
The laborer's nails pared level
Since those two civil servants set
Their whetstone to the blunted edge
And minced the muddling devil

Whose owl-eyes are in the scraggly wood
Scared mothers to miscarry,
Drove the dogs to cringe and whine,
And turned the farmboy's temper wolfish,
The housewife's desultory.
I interpret Plath's poem as follows.
The accomplishment (virtue) achieved by the male (stallion) poet surpasses the accomplishment (virtue) accomplished by the female (nag) poet.

The male poet sharpens large knives, whereas the female poet sharpens small scissors.

A lantern-jaw man write poems full of Reason, whereas a squat woman writes poems full of mere Common Sense.

The male poet influences doctors and other intellectuals, whereas a female poet influences mere housewives and shopkeepers.

A man cuts down trees, whereas a woman merely trims poodles' hair.

The male poet uses his big, sharpened knife and the female poet uses her small sharpened scissors to attack life's evil (the muddling devil). The female poet is further weakened, however, by her anxious pregnancies. A female poet is timid, like a fearful dog.

In contrast, a male facing danger is like a wolf. When a female faces danger, she becomes desultory -- becomes halfhearted, passive, unfocused, erratic.
That is how the poet Sylvia Platt felt about competing against her poet husband Ted Hughes. She never would keep pace with him, much less surpass him. He as a poet would always accomplish much more than she.

I do not know whether Eleanor Bergstein ever tried to write poetry, but she surely felt that she never would match her poet husband, Michael Goldman. Even writing prose, she perhaps felt she could not match him.



I will continue this article in Part 2.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Home-Made Dirty Dancing - 12

Miscellaneous Videos - 11

Dirty River Dancing

Tom Beck in Dörte's Dancing

Raeann Repulsive's Videos

The Stage Musical in Italy

Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi

Miscellaneous Videos - 10

The Dark Secret That Hides Behind the Friendly Facade

Videos Made By Jessyka Watson-Galbraith - 2

Continued from my previous post.


The seventh video for the new dance piece "Dance Fever" by Jessyka Watson-Galbraith.
Based on the movie "Dirty Dancing."
Jessyka's apartment - Wednesday morning - this is Lea's first YouTube experience.
Pretty damn sexy.


The eighth video for the new dance piece "Dance Fever" by Jessyka Watson-Galbraith.
Based on the movie "Dirty Dancing."
Jessyka's apartment - Monday night - first real taste of summer , first costume found today!!


The twelth video for the new dance piece "Dance Fever" by Jessyka Watson-Galbraith.
Based on the movie "Dirty Dancing."
Clair's apartment - Saturday arvo - putting the elf back into twelth.


The fifteenth video for the new dance piece "Dance Fever" by Jessyka Watson-Galbraith.
Based on the movie "Dirty Dancing."
My apartment - this is what I call pushing boundaries.


The twenty sixth video for the new dance piece "Dance Fever" by Jessyka Watson-Galbraith. 
Based on the movie "Dirty Dancing."

Videos Made By Jessyka Watson-Galbraith - 1

From the blog Dance Fever, written in 2007.
Jessyka Watson-Galbraith was born in Perth, Western Australia. She trained at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, completing her BA (Hons) in 2004.

Since graduating she has been she has been working between Europe and Australia. First landing in Vienna with the DanceWEB Europe scholarship in 2005. She then moved on to work on projects in Vienna, Budapest, Berlin and London.

In Australia she has performed at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, the Next Wave Festival in Melbourne, the Artrage Festival in Perth and performed in/created works for STRUT, the Perth based Contemporary Dance performance platform.

She has been commissioned to make work four works for the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts and also created a solo Bitumen with sound artist Dave Miller.

She has been part of the on-going project TWO with Paul Gazzola in Berlin. This will be performed at the Sophiensaele May/June 2007.

For the past 18 months she has been based in London, where she created her Celine Dion extravaganza LET'S TALK ABOUT LOVE which involved 13 dancers and was performed at The Place.

Her work is currently pre-occupied with exploring web identities of dance pieces, generating collections of videos and stage shows based on pop, dance and love.

The first video for the new dance piece "Dance Fever" by Jessyka Watson-Galbraith. 
Based on the movie "Dirty Dancing." Paea's apartment:- Sunday in Berlin.


The second video for the new dance piece "Dance Fever" by Jessyka Watson-Galbraith.
Based on the movie "Dirty Dancing."Jessyka's apartment:- Friday night, Berlin.


The third video for the new dance piece "Dance Fever" by Jessyka Watson-Galbraith. 
Based on the movie "Dirty Dancing." 
Jessyka's apartment - Tuesday night in Berlin. 
The part when Baby confronts her father - when she finally grows up.
What a scene...


The fifth video for the new dance piece "Dance Fever" by Jessyka Watson-Galbraith. 
Based on the movie "Dirty Dancing." 
Jessyka's apartment - MOnday night in Berlin. 
This is YouTube. You can't get more YouTube than this.


The sixth video for the new dance piece "Dance Fever" by Jessyka Watson-Galbraith. 
Based on the movie "Dirty Dancing." 
Clair's apartment - Tuesday night in Berlin. Clair got a new bed.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Lisa Houseman's Other Suitor

This post follows up my previous post Lisa's Belated Decision to Have Sex With Robbie.


On the evening of Thursday, August 29, 1963, Lisa is entering the resort hotel's main building to play bingo. A waiter offers to dance with her later that evening. Lisa responds coyly that he indeed should ask her to dance later that evening.

Hey, how about a dance later?

Lisa Houseman
Could be. Who knows?
That night, Lisa's sister Baby Houseman will dance with Johnny Castle at the Sheldrake Hotel. Afterwards Baby will spend the night in Johnny's cabin.

On the next morning, Friday, August 30, Lisa will inform her father, Jake Houseman, that Baby was away from their hotel room all night. At breakfast, Jake will announce that the family will depart from the hotel a day early, but then will change his mind.

That Friday night, Lisa will tell Baby that she intends to "go all the way" with Robbie Gould. During the afternoon and evening of Saturday, August 31, however, Lisa dawdles indecisively about whether she indeed will go all the way with him. By the time she makes up her mind -- YES! -- to do so, Vivian Pressman already has come into Robbie's cabin and seduced him.

The song "Yes" did not exist in 1963, when the movie's story takes place. Rather, the song was written especially for the movie in 1986. The song's lyrics tell how Lisa spent the day trying to make up her mind.
Driving around,
I just can't hear a sound,
Except my own wheels turning.
Wasting the day --
I'm just running away
From a heart that's a burning,
But I can't run forever.

Yes! We're gonna fall in love,
And it feels so right.
Yes, we're gonna make love.
It's gonna be tonight.

I can just imagine
Hugging and teasing
And loving and squeezing
All night.

I've made up my mind --
This is gonna be mine.
I'm so glad I waited.

Why did I try
To figure out why?
Everything can't be anticipated

I can't wait to tell him.

Oh, yes!


Now let's think back to Thursday evening. Some waiter indicated to Lisa that he wanted to dance with her later that evening. She did not respond with a definite decision. Rather, she responded coyly that he should ask her again, later that evening.
Could be. Who knows?
Lisa's response was provisional -- depending on Robbie.
* If Robbie danced with her, then she would not dance with this other suitor.

* If Robbie did not dance with her, then she would dance with this other suitor.
Of course, we know that Robbie did dance with Lisa on that Thursday night. Because Robbie did so, Lisa decided on Friday evening that she would "go all the way" (i.e. go to third base) with Robbie on Saturday evening.

Early on Saturday, Lisa hinted her decision to Robbie, who therefore expected Lisa to come to his cabin on Saturday evening.

However, during Saturday, Lisa dawdled indecisively. By the time Lisa made up her mind and come to Robbie's cabin, Vivian already was there and having sex with him.


Lisa became indecisive during Saturday because of that other waiter -- that other suitor -- who had asked her on Thursday evening to dance with him. Perhaps he approached her again on Saturday and asked her again to dance with him that evening.

This other suitor's persistent interest and renewed offer caused Lisa to waver in her decision about "going all the way" with Robbie. After all, Baby herself had objected, saying.
It's just wrong this way. It should be with someone -- with someone that you sort of love.
Baby was right!

A young woman should save and share such an intimate, once-in-a-lifetime experience specially with a man whom she loves. Such a precaution will be memorable, romantic, appreciated and important.

Perhaps Lisa was not attracted much by this other suitor, but his interest and offer caused her to realize that she soon would have other male suitors in her life. Soon she would meet the The Man of Her Life, with whom she would enjoy a lifetime of loving sexual hapiness.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Eleanor Bergstein never got rich from "Dirty Dancing"

According to the website Box Office Mojo, the movie Dirty Dancing has earned about $214 million.

So, the movie's creator, Eleanor Bergstein, must be extremely rich. Well, she is rich compared to you and me, but she is not extremely rich. Several websites that specialize in estimating celebrities' net worth estimate Bergstein's net worth as follows:
Celebrity Net Worths = $1.4 million

Wiki Net Worth = $1.2 million

Net Worth Post = $19 million
Bergstein is married to Michael Goldman, who taught English literature at Princeton University. He alone, from such a career, could have accumulated a wealth of $1.2 million.

My own father was a professor at the University of Oregon. He died last year, and his estate was valued at about $1 million. My Mom was just a housewife. Neither my Dad nor my Mom inherited any significant wealth. They accumulated $1 million from their house's appreciation and from ordinary, conservative investments.

From that perspective, I think it's quite possible that most of Bergstein's net worth might be attributed to her husband's earnings as a Princeton professor and from their joint investments. In other words, surprisingly little of their wealth might be attributed to Dirty Dancing.

Even if Bergstein's net worth is $19 million, that is a surprisingly small amount when compared to her movie's earnings of $214 million.


Bergstein must have signed away practically all of her copyrights in order to get her movie made. She must have been paid essentially only a flat fee for her screenplay. She did not get a percentage of the movie's profits.


By comparison, Franke Previte retained the entire copyrights for his songs "Hungry Eyes" and "Time of My Life". His net worth is estimated as follows:
Celebrity Net Worth = (Previte is not listed)

Wiki Net Worth = $1 million

Net Worth Post = $7 million
In other words, Bergstein and Previte have accumulated similar seven-digit net worths.

The difference is that Previte accumulated most of his net worth from the two songs he wrote for Dirty Dancing, whereas Bergstein accumulated little of her own net worth from Dirty Dancing.

Also, Bergstein was married to a Princeton professor who enjoyed a steady, high salary for decades.


So, is Bergstein belatedly getting rich now from the stage musicals based on her movie Dirty Dancing?

Well, she never goes to bed hungry, but she is not getting as rich as you imagine.

The website Hollywood Reporter has published an article titled Inside the Legal Battle Over a Lucrative 'Dirty Dancing' Stage Musical, which includes the following passages (emphasis added).
... In London alone, a Dirty Dancing musical reportedly grossed $500 million.

Such prosperity should be the formula for happiness among all involved, but it hasn't been. Behind the curtains, the screenwriter of the original film has been tangoing with the stage version's Australian producer over rights. Last year [2013], an arbitrator ruled largely in favor of the production company, but the drama isn't over.

Last week [February 2014], amid reports of new Dirty Dancing musical tour dates in the U.K., a New York judge was asked to confirm the arbitrator's ruling. ...

In 2004, Bergstein's Magic Hour Productions licensed stage rights to the cult film to Time of My Life Pty Ltd. According to a copy of the agreement, Bergstein got a $25,000 advance for an Australian show, further payments in the event that the show opened in other countries and a healthy share of box office profits.

At the time, Time of My Life Pty was run by Bergstein's close friend, Kevin Jacobsen, one of Australia's most important entertainment executives, who also owned a management firm representing the likes of Barbra Streisand, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Pearl Jam. But according to a 2012 story in the Sydney Morning Herald, Jacobsen fought an intense family battle with his brother, Colin Jacobsen, which he essentially lost.

Kevin reportedly suffered financial troubles, investors demanded money, and after his company was threatened with being placed into receivership, he sold shares.

As a result, Dirty Dancing's global rights eventually wound up in the hands of Colin and his daughter Amber Jacobsen.

Bergstein wasn't happy about this. ,,,
The global rights to the Dirty Dancing stage musical are owned by some investor's daughter named Amber Jacobsen !!

Bergstein got a measly $25,000 !!!

You can read the entire article. Essentially it says that Bergstein was paid a flat fee and does not share significantly in the profits.

Bergstein's main earnings from the stage musical probably are just for her personal appearances. When the musical begins a tour in in Lisbon or Helsinki or wherever, she is paid to go there, sign autographs and appear at public-relations events.


Bergstein's decision to sell all her copyrights to Dirty Dancing so that the movie would be made was a rational decision.

After the movie Dirty Dancing became hugely profitable after its release in 1987, she was in a strong position to negotiate an advantageous deal for her following movie. She wrote and also directed her following movie Let It Be Me, which was released in 1995. I think the movie is very good, but it played in movie theaters for only a few days -- less than a week -- and then practically disappeared forever because of some bizarre argument with the producer.

This following movie, Let It Be Me, was Bergstein's big chance to earn big money and to launch a lucrative career in the movie business. Because that movie disappeared immediately, however, Bergstein's movie career ended without her ever accumulating an wealth from it.

Bergstein then had a second chance to get rich from her stage musical, but all the copyrights fell into the hands of one investor's lucky daughter, Amber Jacobsen.

Amber Jacobsen, who will earn millions of dollars forever
from the stage musical "Dirty Dancing" while
Eleanor Bergstein lives on Social Security benefits.