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I found the phrase “bathe someone in a glow” in the following sentence of the New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd’s article titled “Memoirs of a Geisha.” (September 13).

I was attracted to the caption, and I thought it was a review of a memoire of the famous former Geisha residing in New York (I don’t know why Dowd likened Jacqueline a Geisha), but it was about the tape of an interview of Jackie Kennedy with Arthur Schlesinger, which was discovered 47 years after the interview took place.

“In the 1964 tapes, the 34-year-old widow can be unsparing and caustic, except about her sometimes imperfect husband, whom she bathes in an impossibly perfect glow.”

As I’m not clear about the meaning of “bathe someone in glow,” I checked Google, and found no definition, but for an example of the usage in A Wagnerová - Czech Sociological Review, 1996.

“It also affected the poor and property-less since they were no longer bathed in the glow from men at the peak of the social hierarchy.”

What does “bathe imperfect husband in glow” mean? Does it something to do with “put someone in the limelight”?

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2 Answers

Bathe in a glow simply means to have a favorable light cast on the person. Typically it's worded the other way: "He bathed in her glow" so the passage quoted is an unusual one. However, I believe the intent is that she cast him in a perfect light, i.e. put him up on a pedestal.

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"Bathe in the glow of someone" generally means to share undeservedly in someone elses glory or fame, eg 'as a musician Yoko Ono bathed in the glow of John Lennon'.

"whom she bathes in an impossibly perfect glow" - not exactly sure about that usage. From context I would say the author meant "paints in a perfect light" - ie. ignores all their faults and only mentions or remembers the good points.

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