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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

From "Fathers: A Literary Anthology" by Andre J. D. Gerard

To read Margaret Atwood, Winston Churchill, Franz Kafka, Doris Lessing, Alice Munro, and Philip Roth explore aspects of their fathers is to open maps of possibility:

Fathers are never of a piece, even though we often try to make them so.  This is a consequence both of fact and of relativity.  The young vital father of our infancy metamorphoses through stages into the dying old man of our maturity, and that progression is an erratic of good days, bad days.  Our age shapes our response to our fathers, and the father of our childhood is not the father of our teens, still less of our maturity.  The temporal variations in child father interactions create a distortion, a haze, through which fathers can only be guessed at.

The images of the father are further distorted in the fun house mirror of the child’s personality, a personality with strengths and weaknesses and shapes and sizes of its own.    Because of temperament--because of confidence, insecurity, courage, timidity, trust, or doubt--for one child a father is a romanticized god, for another a demonized monster.  Mary Gordon and Sylvia Plath, united in losing their fathers at an early age, made very different men of their respective fathers.

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