We’ve taken you inside Marilyn Monroe’s personal library, which included “no shortage of great literary works – everything from Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, to Ulysses by James Joyce, to Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky and The Plays Of Anton Chekhov.” And speaking of Ulysses, we’ve also revisited a 1955 photoshoot where the pioneering photojournalist Eve Arnold captured Monroe reading a worn copy of James Joyce’s modernist classic in a playground. By the looks of things, Monroe was making her way through the final chapter, sometimes known as “Molly Bloom’s Soliloquy.”
Today, we have Monroe reading Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. In his biography The Return of Marilyn Monroe, Sam Staggs notes that “Walt Whitman was [Monroe’s] favorite poet, even more than Carl Sandburg. She loved him from the moment a New York friend gave her [Leaves of Grass] years earlier.” Staggs continues, “She often read Whitman for relaxation. The rhythm of his long free lines of verse lulled and stimulated her at the same time.” The photo above was seemingly taken by John Florea at the Beverly Carlton Hotel circa 1952. You can find a whole Pinterest board dedicated to Marilyn Monroe reading here.
Feel free to download free copies of Leaves of Grass and Ulysses from our Free eBooks and Free Audio Books collections.
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Marilyn Monroe Reads Joyce’s Ulysses at the Playground (1955)
A Look Inside Marilyn Monroe’s Personal Library
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I am glad she could enjoy Leaves of Grass. I found it interesting and delighted in Whitman’s revelations and quandaries, but found myself despising his incessant repetition.