October 02, 2004

Marge Piercy

Here is a list of books recommended by poet, novelist and activist Marge Piercy (according to The Reader's Companion):

Scriptures and Midrash: I can’t separate the importance of the two. The first is rich and sparse at once; the second shows how any tale has a hundred interpretations and as many points of view as there are people who can tell it.

Ulysses, James Joyce. I read it six times through and once aloud before I was 22 and it taught me an enormous amount about language, myth and the imagination.

Moby Dick, Herman Melville. Another book I reread and read aloud. He caused me to begin thinking about the differences between the British, the Irish and the American languages and myths.

Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë, captured my romantic imagination in adolescence and also instructed me that social class was important in fiction, no matter what the American critics said.

The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir, I read when I was choking in an early marriage. It named feelings and ideas that I could not grasp without having a vocabulary in which to think about them and begin to discuss them.

Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, Jane Harrison and The Golden Bough, James Frazer. I was led to Frazer by reading T.S. Eliot in high school, and Jane Harrison I came to from cultural anthropology during my first year in college. Both taught me to think about tale and myth in ways that I found fruitful and exciting, to see larger patterns, to link up story with the cultural and economic base.

U.S.A. by John Dos Passos. This was very important in showing an interesting way to combine traditional fiction form with the mass media.


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