Sylvia Plath (Great Writers)

She survived the attempt and was hospitalized, receiving treatment with electro-shock therapy. Her experiences of breakdown and recovery were later turned into fiction for her only published novel, The Bell Jar. Having made a recovery, Plath returned to Smith for her degree.

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She earned a Fulbright grant to study at Cambridge University in England, and it was there that she met poet Ted Hughes. The two were married in Plath published two major works during her lifetime, The Bell Jar and a poetry volume titled The Colossus. Both received warm reviews.

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However, the end of her marriage in left Plath with two young children to care for and, after an intense burst of creativity that produced the poems in Ariel, she committed suicide by inhaling gas from a kitchen oven. Largely on the strength of Ariel, Plath became one of the best-known female American poets of the 20th century.

The one could not exist without the other.

And this is right. In a curious way, the poems read as though they were written posthumously. Reference to Sylvia Plath is constant where poetry and the conditions of its present existence are discussed. In Ariel, the everyday incidents of living are transformed into the horrifying psychological experiences of the poet.

Love and Death, all rivals, are resolved as one within the irreversibility of experience. To reverse Blake, the Heart knows as much as the Eye sees. But it was, precisely, a source of living energy, of her imaginative, creative power. So, though death itself may have been a side issue, it was also an unavoidable risk in writing her kind of poem. My own impression of the circumstances surrounding her eventual death is that she gambled, not much caring whether she won or lost; and she lost.

I believe it should be generally relevant, to such things as Hiroshima and Dachau, and so on. Plath writes of the human dread of dying. Her primitive honesty and emotionalism are her strength.

Sylvia Plath

It chronicles a nervous breakdown and consequent professional therapy in non-clinical language. The other, a rebellion against conventional female roles, was slightly ahead of its time. It is more than a feminist document, for it presents the enduring human concerns of the search for identity, the pain of disillusionment, and the refusal to accept defeat. Plath had intended, however. In her poetry, in other words, she had free and controlled access to depths formerly reserved to the primitive ecstatic priests, shamans and Holymen.

I think the unity of her opus is clear.

Once the unity shows itself, the logic and inevitability of the language, which controls and contains such conflagrations and collisions within itself, becomes more obviously what it is—direct, and even plain, speech. This language, this unique and radiant substance, is the product of an alchemy on the noblest scale. Her elements were extreme: Her stormy, luminous senses assaulted a downright practical intelligence that could probably have dealt with anything.

She saw her world in the flame of the ultimate substance and the ultimate depth. And this is the distinction of her language, that every word is Baraka: Poets have often spoken about this ideal possibility but where else, outside these poems, has it actually occurred? If we have the discrimination to answer this question, we can set her in her rightful company.

Feast on this smorgasbord of poems about eating and cooking, exploring our relationships with food. Jamaal May blasts off into hyperspace on this episode of VS. Danez and Franny run with the poet, MC, professor, and thinker as they talk waves, matter, neurology, future, and Safia Elhillo is a goshdarn timespace-suspending poet. Danez, Franny, and Safia talk unraveling shame, opening the door to a queer Muslim literary community, caesuras and Early Poems, a collection of Plath's work, was published as the May, , issue of Harvard Advocate; fifty of her early unpublished poems appeared in Times Literary Supplement, July 31, ; the posthumously published poem "Ennui" debuted in Blackbird, November, After her work moved into a more surreal landscape darkened by a sense of imprisonment and looming death, overshadowed by her father.

The Colossus is shot through with themes of death, redemption and resurrection. After Hughes left, Plath produced, in less than two months, the forty poems of rage, despair, love, and vengeance on which her reputation mostly rests. Plath's landscape poetry, which she wrote throughout her life, has been described as "a rich and important area of her work that is often overlooked The poems in Ariel mark a departure from her earlier work into a more personal arena of poetry.

Robert Lowell 's poetry may have played a part in this shift as she cited Lowell's book Life Studies as a significant influence, in an interview just before her death. Plath's close friend Al Alvarez , who has written about her extensively, said of her later work: A casual visitor or unexpected telephone call, a cut, a bruise, a kitchen bowl, a candlestick—everything became usable, charged with meaning, transformed.

Her poems are full of references and images that seem impenetrable at this distance, but which could mostly be explained in footnotes by a scholar with full access to the details of her life. Plath's poem "Morning Song" from Ariel is regarded as one of the twentieth century's finest poems concerning an artist's freedom of expression. Plath's fellow confessional poet and friend Anne Sexton commented: Suicide is, after all, the opposite of the poem. Sylvia and I often talked opposites. We talked death with burned-up intensity, both of us drawn to it like moths to an electric lightbulb, sucking on it.

She told the story of her first suicide in sweet and loving detail, and her description in The Bell Jar is just that same story. Plath's letters were published in , edited and selected by her mother Aurelia Plath. The collection, Letters Home: Correspondence — , came out partly in response to the strong public reaction to the publication of The Bell Jar in America.

Her adult diaries, starting from her first year at Smith College in , were first published in as The Journals of Sylvia Plath, edited by Frances McCullough, with Ted Hughes as consulting editor. In , when Smith College acquired Plath's remaining journals, Hughes sealed two of them until February 11, , the 50th anniversary of Plath's death. During the last years of his life, Hughes began working on a fuller publication of Plath's journals. In , shortly before his death, he unsealed the two journals, and passed the project onto his children by Plath, Frieda and Nicholas, who passed it on to Karen V.

More than half of the new volume contained newly released material; [79] The American author Joyce Carol Oates hailed the publication as a "genuine literary event". Hughes faced criticism for his role in handling the journals: In the foreword of the version, he writes, "I destroyed [the last of her journals] because I did not want her children to have to read it in those days I regarded forgetfulness as an essential part of survival.

Plath's semi-autobiographical novel, which her mother wished to block, was published in and in the US in I've tried to picture my world and the people in it as seen through the distorting lens of a bell jar". While visiting Norton, Plath broke her leg skiing, an incident that was fictionalized in the novel. She strongly believed in their abilities to be writers and editors, while society forced them to fulfill secretarial roles. And here you come, with a cup of tea Wreathed in steam. The blood jet is poetry, There is no stopping it.

You hand me two children, two roses. As Hughes and Plath were legally married at the time of her death, Hughes inherited the Plath estate, including all her written work. Hughes has been condemned repeatedly for burning Plath's last journal, saying he "did not want her children to have to read it.

Publications & Acknowledgements

Still the subject of speculation and opprobrium in , Hughes published Birthday Letters that year, his own collection of 88 poems about his relationship with Plath. Hughes had published very little about his experience of the marriage and Plath's subsequent suicide, and the book caused a sensation, being taken as his first explicit disclosure, and it topped best seller charts.

It was not known at the volume's release that Hughes was suffering from terminal cancer and would die later that year. The book went on to win the Forward Poetry Prize , the T. The poems, written after Plath's death, in some cases long after, try to find a reason why Plath took her own life. Stronger Than Death examined Hughes' life and work and included audio recordings of Plath reciting her own poetry. Their daughter Frieda spoke for the first time about her mother and father. In it was revealed that letters written by Plath between February 18, and February 4, claim that Hughes beat Plath two days before she had a miscarriage in , and that Hughes told Plath he wished that she was dead.

The letters were sent to Dr. Ruth Barnhouse then Dr. Plath's voice is heard in the BBC documentary about her life.

Gwyneth Paltrow portrayed Plath in the biopic Sylvia Frieda Hughes , now a poet and painter, who was two years old when her mother died, was angered by the making of entertainment featuring her parents' lives. She accused the "peanut crunching" public of wanting to be titillated by the family's tragedies.

In , Frieda reacted to the situation in the poem "My Mother" in Tatler:. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Poet novelist short story writer.


Linda Wagner-Martin is Hanes Professor of English and Comparative Literature at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. She was the Sylvia Plath was one of the most dynamic and admired poets of the 20th century. She let her writing express elemental forces and primeval fears. Oates put it more simply when she wrote that Plath's best-known poems, “many of them.

Frieda Hughes Nicholas Hughes. Otto Plath father Aurelia Schober mother. Poetry portal Boston portal Biography portal. A note explains that the texts of all but half a dozen of the many pieces listed are in the Sylvia Plath Archive of juvenilia in the Lilly Library at Indiana University. The rest are with the Sylvia Plath Estate.

Retrieved June 1, Archived from the original on March 19, Academy of American Poets. Archived from the original on February 4, Encyclopedia of Creativity, Two-Volume Set. This Day in History. Archived from the original on July 1, Retrieved July 9, Now held in the British Library Sound Archive. Archived from the original on March 22, Retrieved April 14, Archived from the original on July 3, From The Contemporary Review.

J R Soc Med. Archived from the original on December 27, Beauty and an easy route to death have long made the Golden Gate Bridge a magnet for suicides". Archived from the original on May 25, I was 30 and stupid ' ". Archived from the original on March 20, Series 6 , Hughes. Folk Novel of China. Retrieved September 13, — via LA Times.

A Talented Murderer' 11 December ". Retrieved 17 February Archived from the original on March 18, Poems by Robin Morgan". Archived from the original on November 4, Archived from the original on March 12, Archived from the original on March 26, The New York Times. Retrieved April 6, In reflecting back upon these last sixteen years, I can see tragedies and happiness, all relative — all unimportant now — fit only to smile upon a bit mistily.

In other letters, the young Plath speaks of the fears of growing older that also grip so many on the cusp of adulthood:. I want to be affected by life deeply, but never so blinded that I cannot see my share of existence in a wry, humorous light and mock myself as I mock others.

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  • A Sylvia Plath Interview with Peter Orr.
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I am afraid of getting older. I am afraid of getting married. Spare me from cooking three meals a day — spare me from the relentless cage of routine and rote. In other letters, she does express some sentiments of inner turmoil — of not knowing what she wants or if she ever will. But again, here, who has not felt such things? But, oh, I cry out against it. I am I — I am powerful — but to what extent? How awful to be anyone but I.

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I have a terrible egotism. I love my flesh, my face, my limbs with overwhelming devotion. Is not that image, free from blemish, the true self — the true perfection? Am I wrong when this image insinuates itself between me and the merciless mirror. Oh, even now I glance back on what I have just written — how foolish it sounds, how overdramatic. Even now I dread the big choices which loom up in my life — what college? What is best for me? What do I want?