Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Musings from Beyond the Grave

"I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best."

That's what Marilyn Monroe once said about herself showing a startlingly strong take for a woman who lived from the 1920s to 1960s.

After her death August 1962, a significant amount of mystery has cloaked the secret life of the famed blond bombshell. But now, FSG--an imprint of Macmillian--plans to reveal some of Marilyn's inner-most thoughts in a new collection of Marilyn's own writings, according to EW.com:

The candle in the wind just keeps burning. Farrar, Straus and Giroux has announced that they plan to release a collection of Marilyn Monroe’s own writings. Fragments will include poems, correspondence, rare photos, as well as reproductions of documents handwritten by the blond bombshell herself. It is set to hit bookstores this fall.

The book will purportedly show the seldom seen facets of the breathy pneumatic icon, who was in actuality a whole lot smarter than her coquettish image suggested. What do you think, Shelf-Lifers? Are you interested in getting a glimpse of the Norma Jean behind the Marilyn Monroe?

Check out the post HERE

Seeing this deal news today, it got me thinking, not only about what Marilyn might have to say, but also about posthumous publications in general. While I think they can certainly be interesting, I'm not sure how I feel about them ethically. (There's an interesting blogpost on the topic HERE and a thought-provoking Wall Street Journal article HERE.)

Should our heirs just be free to publish our work, whether it be a drawing, poem, or grocery list? Or should our obvious choice NOT to publish be honored? It also brings up the question of authorial intent--if an author didn't want to publish something, why would you do it for them?

I was discussing this very topic last night with a big J.D. Salinger fan. While I'd heard the rumors that many unpublished works were discovered upon Salinger's death, what I didn't know though was that it's also rumored that he left instructions along with said documents. His notes are said to include things like "This is done," "This one needs to be edited," "Leave this one alone," etc. etc.

Personally, I hope that both rumors are true.

But I also hope that whoever's in charge of his estate abides by his very clear wishes.

What are your thoughts on posthumous publication?
Would you release it if you found unpublished works by some well-known, long-dead author?

1 comment:

  1. I would say that with a figure as iconic as Marilyn, where so much of her life has been published, it only makes sense to publish this forthcoming book. When it comes to Salinger, who actually left instructions, those should be followed to the T. I guess it all depends on who the author is, who controls his or her estate, and how much of a positive impact publishing a work, personal or otherwise, can have on the public at large.