Saturday, November 3, 2012

Literary Bombshell: Marilyn Monroe & Her Passion for the Classics

(NOTE: when Studio of Style posted this item back in March, we had so many requests for more, more, more Marilyn! So, we're working on something for you, okay? In the meanwhile, for those of you who might have missed the first-go-round on this story of ours, here it is once again!)

LITERARY BOMBSHELL: MARILYN MONROE & HER PASSION FOR THE CLASSICS -- She practically devoured books -- and not just any old book -- but the kind of stuff that college courses are made of.  So we're gonna compare notes here, okay?  Marilyn Monroe spent many an hour reading scripts when she finally made her mark in Hollywood -- and along with those scripts, she was burning the midnight oil reading some of the heavyweights in literature that surprised many, given the fact that she often portrayed characters whose interests were bent more towards pleasurable pursuits than in the cerebral. Which is why we at Studio of Style have poked around her bookcase to sniff out the kind of reading material that interested our blonde bombshell when she was able to enjoy those precious hours away from the lights and cameras of Tinseltown.  In 1945, she was a member of the Westwood Public Library (Westwood is the neighborhood of L.A. that is home to UCLA) and during that time she opened a charge account at a local bookstore -- and in 1951 she was taking a night course "Backgrounds in Literature" at UCLA, but that didn't last long due to the distraction she caused in class (!).  "I restore myself when I'm alone," Monroe once said. And it seemed that immersing herself in books by both contemporary and time-tested authors was one way of restoring her mind -- and the book shown in the photo above (A) How to Develop Your Thinking Ability by Kenneth Keyes published in 1950 was a very popular "self-help" book that offered mental techniques for increasing one's thinking effectiveness (which probably came in very handy among Monroe's arsenal when employing her acting skills).  Before we delve into the books, let's look at a couple of items fleshing out her book nook: (B) A classic carriage clock (the first one was created by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1812 for Napoleon Bonaparte!).  (C) Reproductions of scenes from the Sistine Chapel ceiling in Rome, painted by Michelangelo.  (D) A black Emerson clock radio.  Oh, and we love those button-up Levis jeans! Now onto the books: how many of these have you read?  You'll get 10 points for each one, okay? (1) Actors on Acting by Toby Cole and Helen Frich Chinoy, first published in 1949 by Crown.  (2) The Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  (3) The Red Pony by John Steinbeck, first published in 1933 as an episodic novella.  (4) The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky was a serial between 1868 and 1869 -- and considered one of the most brilliant literary achievements of the Golden Age of Russian literature.  (5) The amazing 1869 masterpiece War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy which (to top the accolades we just gave to The Idiot) is one of the most important books ever written!  (6) Nana, the story of a streetwalker's rise to high-class cocotte, completed in 1880 by French author Emile Zola.  (7) Dead Souls by Russian author Nikolai Gogol, published in 1842.  (8) An Enemy of the Peoplean 1882 play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. (9) Death of a Salesman, the 1949 play written by Monroe's third husband, playwright Arthur Miller.  (10) The New Abridged American Dictionary.  (11) The Holy Bible.  (12) A Farewell to Arms, the semi-autobiographical novel by Ernest Hemingway, first published in 1929.  (13) The Little Prince, the 1943 novella by French aristocrat Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry.  So, how many points did you rack up? We're not counting, of course, but we are curious!  And we're not taking into consideration the other authors that Monroe relished: James Joyce (Ulysses); Sigmund Freud (Psychology of Everyday Life); Shirley Jackson (Life Among the Savages); Edith Hamilton (Greek Mythology); Thomas Wolfe (The Web and the Rock); and, of course, Jack Kerouac and his influential masterpiece On the Road.  So there you have it, kids! Our advice to you: (1) You can always read more.  (2) Never forget that you're always a star here at Studio of Style!
Special thanks to librarian Jared Burton for his tireless research.