The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe by Sarah Churchwell

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Synopsis

A brilliant investigation into the debates surrounding Marilyn Monroe's life and the cultural attitudes that her legend reveals

There are many Marilyns: sex goddess and innocent child, crafty manipulator and dumb blonde, liberated woman and tragic loner. Indeed, the writing and rewriting of this endlessly intriguing icon's life has produced more than six hundred books, from the long procession of "authoritative" biographies to the memoirs and plays by ex-husband Arthur Miller and the works by Norman Mailer and Joyce Carol Oates. But even as the books have multiplied, myth, reality, fact, fiction, and gossip have become only more intertwined; there is still no agreement about such fundamental questions as Marilyn's given name, the identity of her father, whether she was molested as a child, and how and why she died.

The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe reviews the unreliable and unverifiable-but highly significant-stories that have framed the greatest Hollywood legend. All the while, cultural critic Sarah Churchwell reveals us to ourselves: our conflicted views on women, our tormented sexual attitudes, our ambivalence about success, our fascination with self-destruction.

In incisive and passionate prose, Churchwell uncovers the shame, belittlement, and anxiety that we bring to the story of a woman we supposedly adore. In the process, she rescues a Marilyn Monroe who is far more complicated and credible than the one we think we know.

 

About Sarah Churchwell

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Sarah Churchwell was educated at Vassar and Princeton and is now a professor of American literature and culture at the University of East Anglia. The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe is her first book. She lives in London.
 
Published December 27, 2005 by Metropolitan Books. 384 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Humor & Entertainment, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Writing about Leaming’s comment that the skin-tight gold lamé Monroe wore in 1952 to an awards ceremony showed that the actress was “hell-bent on self-destruction,” Churchwell dryly adds, “rather than the more obvious goal of self-promotion.” She would like to liberate Monroe from such glib chara...

Oct 15 2004 | Read Full Review of The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe

The Guardian

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The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe by Sarah Churchwell Granta £18.99, pp336 If half as much had been written about the Israeli-Palestinian crisis as has been written about Marilyn Monroe, then most of the Western world would actually know what the Gaza Strip is (unlike the American teenager I heard...

Jun 13 2004 | Read Full Review of The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe

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