Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Bieganski Is Everywhere, Including a Bio of American Author Shirley Jackson


Sue Knight writes in to remind us of how pervasive the Brute Polak stereotype is.
Sue was reading Private Demons, a biography of American author Shirley Jackson. The author is Judy Oppenheimer.


Sue came across this passage: "Joanne was aware of disappointing Shirley on another level as well ... she was the Polack on this beautiful family tree."


Sue ponders, "Joanne, the eldest daughter, was quoted as saying this. Whether she was quoted correctly I do not know, obviously. But both author and publisher included it. To me it is a carefully added drop of poison. [Polish] people are marked as 'unter' - in a book that has nothing whatsoever to do with Poles, Polonians, or Poland."


Wikipedia includes the following passage about Jackson's marriage "According to Jackson's biographers, her marriage was plagued by Hyman's infidelities, notably with his students, and she reluctantly agreed to his proposition of maintaining an open relationship. Hyman also controlled their finances (meting out portions of her earnings to her as he saw fit), despite the fact that after the success of "The Lottery" and later work she earned far more than he did."


On the Wikipedia page for Shirley Jackson's husband, and Joanne's father, Stanley Edgar Hyman, we learn "Hyman was born in Brooklyn, the son of Moe Hyman, and raised Orthodox Jewish."


It's possible that Joanne decided that being a "Polack" is a shameful, ugly, negative thing from her father, and that he learned the stereotype from his father, but this is mere speculation on my part.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Shirley's husband does not come well out of the book at all. Nor does his own father, who was furious that his son married a "shiksa". At least, that is according to the biography, which (to be fair myself) I have been told his children do not like or think to be fair.

    And yes - assuming that the eldest daughter was quoted correctly, - I did wonder where she got the idea of the "inferiority" of Poles from.

    There are two options open for us really. We can go along with "the world" , as it makes it very clear who is a safe target and who is not - who is "superior" and who is "inferior".

    Or we can listen to our Creator, Jehovah, the God of Abraham, who teaches us we are all the damaged children of disobedient Adam, all caught in the same trap and all in need of the same rescue, which some through the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And God asks us to treat each other with the same kindness and respect we would want for ourselves.

    I know which one I prefer. You only have to look at the tragedy that has been human history since the loss of Eden to see where going the way of "the world" gets us.

    I made a note of this vilification as I did think of writing to the publishers, asking them to remove it. Politely, of course. But there is so much of this - these constant little drops of poison, along with the full on Professor Jan Gross style attack from Academe. And I do have a life, along with less and less energy as I get older and older.


Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
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