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resting on her roars

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jul 02, 2006

Australian Helen Reddy is one of those 1970s figures who, like Andy Warhol, left a lasting mark on their generation, not by their talent, but by the faultlessly timed banality of their imagination. Every high school English class has its Reddy-in-waiting, viz., the scowling poetess with a self-esteem problem, yet HR's "I Am Woman (hear me roar)" became inseparably associated with the Women's Liberation Movement of the '70s and with feminism generally.

Now Reddy has given us an autobiography, reviewed with cautious amusement by the NYT. It turns out her madness is not the madness of genius. She's just bonkers.

In a not-to-be-missed chapter entitled "Royalty and Reincarnation," Reddy, having dropped the bombshell that Wallis Warfield Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, was the reincarnation of Richard III, provides a chart of the dramatis personae surrounding the abdication of Edward VIII to demonstrate that it all goes back to the Wars of the Roses. Wallis (or Richard), it seems, had a soul mission to atone for the murders of the little princes in the tower and to see that the crown was returned to its rightful heirs.

Obvious once you think about it.

Yet satisfying as the Plantagenet Atonement is to our sense of justice, I remain somewhat troubled. In protesting "I Am Woman," doth Ms. Reddy protest too much? If the Duchesser Windsor (in Flannery O'Connor's rendering) was herself a MAN earlier on, is any woman safe? Is destiny biology? Are those roars really yours?

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