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Alice - we're all mad here

I want to know if men realise when they are insane.

Posted on 2012.03.05 at 00:26

So I was at mum's place, and the radio was on. There was an interesting story being read on there. It was about the male narrator seeming to fall in love with a female violinist. He is becoming obsessed with her, she is eccentric and doesn't really show interest. She introduced him to a doll she called Julio. The writing style was very interesting. It sounded cool and it had the phase word four times in close proximity (I suppose it sounded cool after that) so I googled some of the sentences I remembered and found it to be a short story by Daphne du Maurier called The Doll. It was written in 1928 but it was only published in a collection of stories rejected by publishers. It was rediscovered two years ago.

Here it is: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/apr/30/the-doll-daphne-du-maurier

Basically the tl;dr story is boy becomes obsessed with girl, girl is indifferent until boy gets girl, then girl is hot and cold, she's yes then she's no, she's in then she's out... you know how the song goes. Girl introduces boy to creepy boy doll called Julio. Boy loves girl so hard that he gets jelly because someone that good must have had so many lovers (and boy is not one of them). Girl tells boy to come back for more tomorrow, he leaves but comes back to her place because he wants some more. He lets himself in and walks in on girl and Julio. Girls tells boy 'lol I dun love u'. Heart = broken. End.

Julio is apparently a 'mechanical male sex doll'. I wasn't actually sure when I read it as it doesn't explicitly say in the story, but that's what came to mind.

The themes are interesting. It seems to be a story about male anxiety of the vibrator making women reject them (I assume 'mechanical male sex dolls did not exist). I looked it up and the vibrator was around in the 1920s. Wikipedia said that the vibrator was patented in 1902 and were regularly advertised as a muscle massager. But the adds disappeared because they started appeared in porn in the 1920s and was associated with sex. So it is a plausible theory.

The doll was described as "a machine – something worked by screws – he was not alive, not human – but terrible, ghastly" which could describe feelings towards a vibrator. She explained to him "And you expect me to love you. Don't you see that I can't – I can't? How can I care for you, or any man? Go away, leave me. I loathe you. I loathe you all. I don't need you. I don't want you." Basically, this doll can satisfy me so I don't need you to do it.

Although there does seem to be something more? The doll is described in a sinister way. It may be a personification of this anxiety, or is the doll doing something more. It's difficult when the concepts of lust and love are so intertwined by the author that it's hard to tell the difference. Why can't she love a man? Love a man as in have sexual attraction, or have a romantic relationship? Perhaps masturbation does not count as monogamy? Perhaps this makes more sense back in its times.

When I was reading the story, I got the impression she had some sort of 'borderline' personality going on. One day she's making advances on the protagonist, the other day she explains she hasn't slept well and made a mistake. But also she did explain earlier on "Is it possible to love someone so much, that it gives one a pleasure, an unaccountable pleasure to hurt them? To hurt them by jealousy I mean, and to hurt oneself at the same time." so perhaps she has this sadomassochism thing going on? Maybe she loves AND hates him at the same time?

Review: http://www.theshortreview.com/reviews/DaphneDuMaurierTheDoll.htm


Threshold reached!! wzdd at 2012-03-04 15:44 (UTC) (Link)
That was a very interesting story. Thanks for the link! It's very well written as well as thought-provoking. I kind of agree with the reviewer (and you): the sinister nature of the doll probably represents the man's feelings about it more than reality. In fact, I'd say the man was more likely to have BPD than Rebecca -- but maybe he was just intensely romantic. :)

Have you heard "Coin operated boy", by the Dresden Dolls? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAnyYTjjhJ0
Threshold reached!! nervous_neuron at 2012-03-06 13:47 (UTC) (Link)
No worries. Yeah good point about him having the BPD.

And yeah, that's the song I embedded onto this post :P
Threshold reached!! wzdd at 2012-03-06 14:47 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, right. :) Some browser extension broke embedded Flash for me and I haven't bothered to fix it.
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