Rewriting History: Adrienne Rich (1)*

LIPIKA DAS

Poet and essayist Adrienne Rich was one of America’s foremost public intellectuals. She was born on May 16, 1929 at Baltimore, Maryland , USA and died on March 27, 2012 at Santa Guz in California at the age of 82years. By profession she was a poet, non-fiction writer and essayist. She was called”one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century and was credited with bringing “the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse.”
She was also called a radical feminist. Because through her writings she tries to challenge the roles assigned to women, patriarchy, binary culture, gender issues and also questioned the notion of *Identity* and the *Self*. By questioning those social norms she tries to rewrite the women’s history. She started writing in that period when women’s writings were not taken seriously. Women were marginalized. So, by following the second wave of feminists, she focused on individual identity of a woman.
To reach her goal she tried to define *Self* , wanted to create new meanings, used language in different ways. But one point to remember here is that though she reveals several facts related to women but she also  conceals things from her readers. In that case she used symbols and other literary techniques. So, the focus of the paper is to throw light on her idea of rewriting women’s history.
Revision, wilfulness, change: these are familiar themes in the long work of the poet whose first book, in 1951, was called “A Change of World” and her second collection was “The Diamond Cutters and Other Poems” (1955). The early characteristic themes are suffocation, alienation and entombment. The poems are defenses against outer treats and inner doubts. W.H.Auden comments on her early poems as follows——-
       These poems…are neatly and modestly dressed, speak quietly but do not mumble, respect their elders but are not cowed by them, and do not tell fibs: that for a first volume, is a good deal.
But her third collection of poems “Snapshot of a Daughter-in-Law: Poems 1954-1962” which was published in 1963 was a much more personal work examining her female identity, reflecting the increasing tensions she experienced as a wife and mother in the 1950’s, marking a substantial change in Rich’s style and subject matter. Beginning with this collection, Rich’s work has explored issues of Identity, sexuality and politics. Her formally ambitious poetics have reflected her continuos search for social justice and her radical feminism.
(To be Continued)*

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