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Daphne du Maurier

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  • Posted July 19, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Richard Kelly's 1987 DAPHNE DU MAURIER might sum up his heroine

    Richard Kelly's 1987 DAPHNE DU MAURIER might sum up his heroine in five words: "My Heart Belongs to Daddy."  ***  
    This helpful book reviews chronologically most of du Maurier's works published before 1987. The author, a  University of Tennessee English Professor, discusses Dame Daphne's works in this sequence: her four earliest novels, followed in Chapter 3 by her gothic masterpiece REBECCA, then the romantic fiction of the 1940s and 1950s,  next the "more introspective novels of the last thirty years,"  then her supernatural and macabre short stories and finally, in the concluding Chapter 7, du Maurier's then current and likely future status as a writer.  ***
    Before setting in motion the rich parade of her works, however, author Kelly's first chapter lays out Daphne du Maurier's long life (she would die in 1989, two years after book's publication). And if there is one dominant note in that first chapter and in all those to come it is this: Actor-theater manager Gerald du Maurier (1873 - 1934), Daphne's father, "became the single most important influence on her life." That life, "in a sense, is an attempt, only partially successful, to excorcise this powerful spirit, to distance him, to gain a perspective on him that will allow her the freedom to develop her independence" (p. 3).  ***  
    Gerald du Maurier died, age 61, in April 1934. Before year's end 34-year old daughter Daphne had produced his biography, GERALD: A PORTRAIT. In her pages Gerald emerges as a talented, two-fold human being. On the one hand he was sexually a man, given to light amours with young actresses. On the other hand he also "exhibited a definite feminine strain ... feminine but not effeminate." Gerald du Maurier possessed "a woman's eager curiosity about other people's lives, a woman's tortuous and roundabout methods of getting to a certain point, a woman's appreciation of gossip, a woman's love of intrigue and drama, a woman's delight and absorption in little mysterious flirtations tht last a day" (Kelly, p. 9).  ***
    Young Daphne knew that her father wanted a son (he and wife Muriel had three daughters). She welcomed their father teaching her and sisters Angela and Jeanne to play cricket and otherwise behave as tomboys. She hoped until the shocked onset of puberty that she could avoid being a girl. In all her writings (a masculine, creative work), Daphne thought of herself as male. She seemed determined to win her father's affections away from her mother to herself.   ***  
    Read Richard Kelly's DAPHNE DU MAURIER and test how well the author's theory of the intertwining of father Gerald and daughter Daphne plays out in novels such as REBECCA, her gothic masterpiece, FRENCHMAN'S CREEK, JULIUS, MY COUSIN RACHEL and in THE SCAPEGOAT, not to mention her distinguished short stories. From that original relationship, according to Kelly, come Daphne's devotion to family and family history, belief in the duality of every human personality, the importance of kindness in relationships, the theoretical superiority of incestuous relationships with parents, siblings and cousins to nonethless strongly affirmed conventional marriages. -OOO-

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