Tuesday, 3 January 2012

White Woman Black Men

White Woman Black Men Biography
Almost 40 years ago, in his own study of Leonardo da Vinci, Sigmund Freud warned that biographers, for personal reasons, often choose heroes for their subjects. Out of their own "special affection," Freud wrote, "they then devote themselves to a work of idealization." Intolerant of anything in their subject's inner or outer life that smacks of human weakness or imperfection, biographers "then give us a cold, strange, ideal form instead of a man to whom we could feel distinctly related." Freud might have added that because the majority of biographers have been white men, so are the subjects of most biographies, South and North.
Two of the best examples of this kind of deification in southern biography are Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee, both of whom have been the subjects of numerous biographies. The "Sage of Monticello" was truly an eloquent, erudite scholar and a brilliant statesman, but his chief biographers—James Parton, Douglas Southall Freeman, Merrill Peterson, and Dumas Malone—have glorified his accomplishments, minimized or denied his flaws, and canonized his name so that a demigod, not a man, emerges from the pages of their biographies. Not until 1974 and the appearance of Fawn Brodie's eye-opening psychobiography, Thomas Jefferson An Intimate History (1974), did someone finally put flesh and bone on Jefferson. Brodie's Jefferson was ambivalent about love and power, slavery and revolution. Brodie's Jefferson was extremely virile and passionate and at the same time compulsively controlled. Most controversial of all, Brodie insisted that rumors of Jefferson's longtime love affair with Sally Hemmings, one of his slaves, were indeed true. The vehemence with which Jefferson's white male biographers, particularly Peterson and Malone, have leaped to their subject's defense in this sensitive matter is evidence of a continued refusal to admit that Jefferson had even a particle of human frailty.
Jefferson's sanctified image has been matched only by that of Robert E. Lee. Of the two Virginians, Lee is the one who, for most southerners, evokes the lump in the throat, the tearful faraway gaze. This is partly because Lee's biographers have purposely created and perpetuated the Lee myth: the man of flawless character; the perfect son, husband, and father; the noble officer torn between love for Union and loyalty to Virginia; the gallant general and brilliant militarist defeated only by overwhelming odds. He exemplified all that was best in the Old South, in the vanquished Confederacy. For the white South, Lee was a saint.
Thomas Connelly, in The Marble Man: Robert E. Lee and His Image in American Society (1977), traces the fascinating history behind the creation of the Lee legend. During and immediately after the Civil War, Lee was only one of several celebrated Confederate military leaders. Others, like Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, Joe Johnston, and Pierre T. Beauregard, were rivals for southern popularity. Lee even received criticism from his earliest biographers for his alleged mistakes at Gettysburg. But in the mid-1870s, shortly after Lee died, a group of Virginians led by General Jubal Early, one of Lee's corps commanders, took control of the Southern Historical Society and its influential papers. For personal reasons, their image of the Civil War centered upon Lee and the Virginia military theater. So they decided to raise Lee far above the other war heroes, silence any critics, and downplay or discredit the exploits of other Confederate generals. Connelly shows how every subsequent biography of Lee, including Douglas Southall Freeman's prizewinning four-volume work, has taken its cues from these far-from-disinterested Virginia men.
White Woman Black Men
White Woman Black Men
White Woman Black Men
White Woman Black Men
White Woman Black Men
White Woman Black Men
White Woman Black Men
White Woman Black Men
Why White Women Choose Black Men - #1 of 5
Black men white women

No comments:

Post a Comment