Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Bell Jar :: Sylvia Plath

Okay, so it's not your summer reading easy breezy happy read. But you know, you grow up hearing about how this poet stuck her head in an oven (which for the LONGEST time I thought it meant she baked her self to death), and oh, by the way, she wrote a book called The Bell Jar [flash to image of a woman with a big glass jar on her head trying to fit it into an oven] which is sort of autobiographical, and recounts at least part of her battle with depression and madness. And then when you're done with school, and twiddling your thumbs, and wishing you had read more in high school and college, and what kind of books do you have to read now in order to catch up with the rest of the literarti, inevitably at some point in time, you'll land on Sylvia.

That, and my supervisor, who wrote her college thesis on the book, knows I like books, and left it on my desk with a note that I might enjoy some "light" reading.

In any case, I'm enamoured with Plath now (as I've made clear on my blog I hope). Her use of language is phenomenal, and she's incredibly accessible. The story itself is cringe-worthy (electroshock therapy?? multiple attempts at suicide?) but it's a testament to what a great writer she is that she balances this very serious story with a touch of humor (if wry) and manages to really immerse the reader in to the frightening world that the protagonist lives in. I mean, seriously, if you ever wondered what it was like to be truly depressed and crazed, this book really gets the feeling across pretty well, I think. [Well, I wouldn't know, I've never been clinically depressed, but from all accounts, it definitely dragged me into her head]

I won't do a summary here, because I'll just assume most people know the plot of the book, or at least know about Sylvia's life. But truly an excellent read. Alas for the oven and the bell jar she got her head stuck in.


moonrat said...

I am 100% on track with you re: that image.

I love Sylvia, for various reasons, esp her language which you go into in your blog post, but.

This book--one of the most upsetting aspects of the book is that it's so much like LIFE. Dark and vaguely creative girl with big ambitions and low self-esteem tries to go coporate in New York and ends up wanting to...well, stick her head in the oven. She makes the conclusion seem so inevitable!!

oximoron said...

I'm a Sylvia Plath-fan!
Her Journals is my Bible...