Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Great Regulars: When it comes to a human being,

the rabbis are even more permissive. "One may desecrate Shabbat for a woman giving birth," the Mishnah instructs, since she is considered to be a person with a life-threatening illness. The Gemara expands on what this "desecration" includes: You can light a lamp, summon a midwife, and bring the pregnant woman oil. However, if possible, the rabbis advise that these things should be done in an atypical manner, as a gesture to Shabbat. Thus they advise that, if a woman is bringing her pregnant friend oil on Shabbat, she should "carry it in her hair."

from Adam Kirsch: Tablet: Can't Touch This


[Carl] Rollyson's account is concise, fast-­moving and reliable, but seldom surprising or deeply empathetic, and he has almost nothing to say about Plath's work. This is a shame, since one of the most intriguing parts of "American Isis" is Rollyson's suggestion that Plath was in some sense a poet for the age of mass media and pop culture. "For Plath," he writes, "an audience had to witness the spectacle of what it meant to be Sylvia Plath."

Here he touches on what is surely the strangest thing about Plath as a writer, especially a young writer of her generation: her apparent indifference to the usual distinctions between high and low.

from Adam Kirsch: The New York Times: Lady Lazarus


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