Form and Content
Anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson (who prefers the name Catherine) wrote With a Daughter’s Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson from her unique perspective as the couple’s only child. For her sources, she deliberately ignored her parents’ voluminous papers and published works, just as she studiously avoided interviewing any of their colleagues and friends, relying instead on her own memories. Much in the first four chapters, during which she describes her early childhood, is therefore impressionistic. Nevertheless, she recounts extraordinarily vivid memories of Mead and Bateson, buoyed no doubt by their photographic and film record of Catherine beginning at her birth. Mead, who spent most of her professional life exploring forms of childhood and child rearing, observed her daughter as if she were a subject for scholarly research, keeping copious notes as well as a film record. Notwithstanding, she was an affectionately attentive mother, and in With a Daughter’s Eye Catherine Bateson provides a fond remembrance of her famous parents.
In the central section of her book, Catherine describes her parents as she recalls them during her adolescence. After their divorce in 1950, Catherine remained with her mother in New York City, while vacationing with her father in California. She ably devotes much of the last several chapters to a technical analysis of her parents’ work. Her father, Gregory Bateson, the son of the...
(The entire section is 444 words.)