28 August 2007

Book Review: Stephanie Hemphill's Your Own, Sylvia

I read Your own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill over the last week. It was well researched and very creative; I enjoyed reading the poems as it re-enforces the work that Plath's biographers have done. I did find its reliance on Rough Magic troublesome. Rough Magic has its moments of decent reporting and I have often referred to it in my Plath studies. Hemphill's book is a unique approach to examining and reading Plath's life and work. Additionally, it provides a creative interpretation of how Plath's friends, family, and other acquaintances view her.

I did find two things worth commenting on regarding Your Own, Sylvia. First, there was no poem for an event that took place the week of her birthday in 1960: Heinemann's publication of The Colossus and other poems. Secondly, and this really bothered me, throughout the poems relating to Plath's time in Devon, North Tawton is called Croton. I believe this is what Butscher called North Tawton in his Sylvia Plath: Method and Madness, presumably to protect the names of the innocent. But, I am disappointed that Hemphill and her editors overlooked this masking and thus, may perpuate the misnomer.

Photograph of Hemphill taken from Randomhouse.ca.

3 comments :

Anonymous said...

call me crazy, but i just read this book...and the poem about meeting ted is entitled "theodore"...i'm pretty certain his name is "edward"...

?

Peter K Steinberg said...

Good point! I appreciate your bringing this up.

Maddy said...

you're welcome! I did a triple take reading it...and I thought I must be insane because I didn't see it brought up anywhere else and I couldn't believe such a mistake could be made!

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