26 November 2009

Ariel Mug

Now that the holiday season is upon us...

Do you have 10 quid hanging around. If so, you might think about getting yourself a Sylvia Plath Ariel coffee mug. The mug reproduces Faber's 2001 publication and woud likely make drinking coffee, tea, hot chocolate (with Bailey's) a more intense experience.

This also seems an appropriate time to give notice that according to Amazon.co.uk, look for a new hardback edition of Ariel on 6 May 2010.

See Plath's pages on Faber's website here.

21 November 2009

A Queen is Crowned: August 24, 1953

In October, my review of Alix Strauss' Death Becomes Them, led to some temporary uncertainly over Aurelia Plath's whereabouts on 24 August 1953 - the afternoon of Sylvia Plath's first suicide attempt. Was she at the theater? Was she at a friends? In Wellesley? Or in some other town? Thanks to BrigetAnna, ~VC, and Jim Long for pointing out that this is something Strauss got right (see the comments section). I recently had occasion to review the Boston Daily Globe for August 24, 1953. I learned that the film Aurelia Plath saw was called A Queen is Crowned. (Amazon.co.uk)

A Queen is Crowned was playing at the Exeter Street Theater, at 26 Exeter Street, at the corner of Exeter and Newbury Streets in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood. That day, Aurelia Plath likely saw the 2:10 p.m. showing. (Sylvia Plath was born at ... wait for it ... 2:10 p.m. She was 20 years old (or, 2 x 10). Plath signed the contract for The Colossus in London on 2/10 (1960). And, 2/10 (1963) was the last full day of her life. Ok, enough?). A Queen is Crowned was narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier and presented by ... wait for it ... J Arthur Rank. It was the same J Arthur Rank that would employ Ted Hughes as a script reader within a few years.

The exterior of the building is still standing (see image below) but it is no longer a cinema. The theater is approximately 13.1 miles from 26 Elmwood Road by way of Route 9/Boylston Street.


17 November 2009

Elena Ciobanu's Sylvia Plath's Poetry: The Metamorphoses of the Poetic Self

Elena Ciobanu, Lecturer at Vasile Alecsandri, University of Bacau, Romania, recently had her book Sylvia Plath's Poetry: The Metamorphoses of the Poetic Self published by Casa Editoriala Demiurg in Romania.

Elena's book is an excellent study of Sylvia Plath's poetry. She builds upon previous critical works and theoretical approaches whilst infusing it with her own original reading.

Ciobanu's Sylvia Plath's Poetry: The Metamorphoses of the Poetic Self is a serious work. I'll be honest, much of it was over my own limited intellect. But be that as it may, I found her writing clear and her approach fresh. Perhaps my favorite part of the book is the third chapter, "The Phenomenological Unfolding of Sylvia Plath's Poetic Existence", on pages 132-135, which deal with Plath's "Empty Ectasy". Here Elena details "the five poems in which we can find Plath's most famous trademark images of so-called transcendence". She takes us carefully through the chronological order of these poems, constructing for me a crystal clear pathway from "Stings" to "Fever 103" to "Ariel" to "Purdah" to "Lady Lazarus" that best exemplifies Plath's poetic achievements in October 1962. It is writing and criticism at its finest.

Potential readers should know that the book has some typographical errors and some imperfect quotes introduced during the editorial process. A familiarity with the quoted work will alleviate any confusion but does lead to a little frustration. But, let this not dissuade you from reading this work.

The website for the publisher is: http://www.ceddemiurg.ro/. Please note, the publisher's website is in Romanian; however, the book is in English. If you are interested in ordering this title, please email Elena who will be able to assist. The book is 10 Dollars or 7 Euros or 6 Pounds, plus shipping.

13 November 2009

Sylvia Plath: Did you know...

Sylvia Plath has been the subject of numerous interpretations. Plath's life and works have been adapted and performed both in dramatic and cinematic fashions, as well as in other ways. Some are remembered, some are not...

Did you know that in 1976 and 1978, the dancer/actress Margaret Beals put on "Stings" in New York? "Stings" co-starred Lee Nagrin and Brooke Myers, and first appeared at the Kauffmann Concert Hall at the 92nd Street Y (1395 Lexington Avenue). The first performance was on 23 May 1976. It was revived briefly in 1978 for 16 performances beginning on 9 May, this time at Beals' own Theater in the Loft.

09 November 2009

Sylvia Plath: The Disquieting Muse

At 5 p.m. on 13 November 2009, Catherine Bowman will be at the Woodberry Poetry Room. She will be both reading from her collection of poems The Plath Cabinet and playing recordings of poems by Plath (and possibly Ted Hughes and Anne Sexton, too). If you are in the area, please come to the informal event, it is free and open to the public. The Woodberry Poetry Reading is in Room 330 of Lamont Library at Harvard.

In conjunction with this event, I've created a little exhibit entitled "Sylvia Plath: The Disquieting Muse". Items featured in the exhibit include a first edition Heinemann The Colossus, a typescript of "The Disquieting Muses" with a typo, the reel tape boxes from Plath 1958 and 1959 Harvard recordings, and a few other items and photographs. The exhibit will be up for a while. The picture here is intentionally small...

Also coming up next weekend, 13-15 November 2009, the 33rd Boston Antiquarian Book Fair is on at the Hynes Convention Center (T to Copley, Back Bay, Prudential or Hynes). It'll be your chance to start or build upon your collection, or to just gaze and drool over the fine books. Be forewarned, most book sellers have a "You drool, you buy" policy. Pretty Colossus signed by Plath for Theodore Roethke.

07 November 2009

Links, reviews, etc. - week ending 7 November 2009

More items of interest to pass on in addition to the recently published articles I posted on yesterday...
  • EvaClaire Albion Wright, at the Sophian, the weekly student press at Smith College, ran an article this week on the Mortimer Rare Book Room, "Rare Book Room allows student interaction with charming collection". As someone who has worked a lot in the Mortimer Rare Book Room, I can't say enough how wonderful and accurate this article was to read.

  • Thanks to Gail Crowther for sending on "Church featured in BBC's Jam and Jerusalem desecrated by vandals", an article that ran in The Telegraph. This is the Church that Court Green faces; and about which Plath wrote about in the poem "The Moon and the Yew Tree" and the short story "Mothers".

  • On 25 November, Olivia Cole of The Spectator reports Frieda Hughes will read with Don Paterson, herself, and others at the The Spectator Boardroom, 22 Old Queen Street, London, SW1H 9HP between 6:30pm and 9pm. I'm confused, however, because although Frieda Hughes is the first poet named in the blog article, she is not included on the poetry events page linked from the blog.

  • Hilary Stout at the New York Times reports on "Where the Boys Aren't". The article discusses ye olde women's only hotels, and mentioned The Barbizon, where Plath stayed in the summer of 1953 during her guest editorship at Madmeoiselle. There is a lovely slideshow.

06 November 2009

New Publications

Recently published is Jane Hedley's I Made You to Find Me: The Coming of Age of the Woman Poet and the Politics of Poetic Address (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2009). In this work is an essay titled, "Sylvia Plath's Ekphrastic Impulse" (pgs 71-102). Other poets examined in I Made You to Find Me are Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich and Gwendolyn Brooks.

The chapter on Plath appears to have grown from Hedley's essay "Sylvia Plath's Ekphrastic Poetry" which appeared in the Spring 2001 issue of Raritan (Vol 20, No. 4), pages 37-73. Hedley's is a good article. While the original was written prior to Eye Rhymes, it doesn't seem to acknowledge this important work when it may have benefited from it.


Also, out now is an essay by Arielle Greenberg and Becca Klaver in the Fall 2009 issue of College Literature (Vol 36, No 4). "Mad Girls’ Love Songs: Two Women Poets—a Professor and Graduate Student—Discuss Sylvia Plath, Angst, and the Poetics of Female Adolescence" appears on pages 179-207. Here follows the abstract:

"The legacy of Sylvia Plath’s poetry and the received notion of the teenage girl writer wallowing in self-pity are discussed in terms of their significance to adolescent female readers and their ramifications for girlhood culture at large. Plath’s legacy endures in part because of the recognition that a fluctuation in moods and personas is often the experience of young women, of writers, of those who struggle with depression or anxiety (and the overlap between these populations), and also because of Plath’s ability to craft the fever of her emotions into poems that rely on bold and rich figurative language. This essay uses memoir, a survey of Plath’s popular and critical reception, and a close reading of Plath poems that take on more adolescent concerns and themes, then concludes by looking at contemporary women poets whose aesthetics, attitudes and themes are relevant to contemporary teenage girl readers."

Thanks to Amanda Golden for the heads up on this College Literature article.

While I've yet to finish the article, I like the style; with each author contributing thoughts, as if in conversation or discussion, much like my article with Gail Crowther in Plath Profiles 2.

03 November 2009

Published Today: Olive Edition of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Today, Harper Perennial publishes the Olive Edition of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

The The's:
The book format is trade paperback.
The ISBN is 0061849901.
The price is $10.
The cover is purple.
The addition of this edition to my collection is welcome.


UPDATE: 4 November 2009: On the back cover of the book it says that this Olive Edition is a Limited Edition.

01 November 2009

Sylvia Plath Collections: T. Thomas papers, mss

The good people at the Lilly Library quietly acquired some of Trevor Thomas' papers earlier this year. The T. Thomas mss, ca. 1976-1990, "consist of the correspondence, writings, legal depositions, poetry, typescript of his autobiography, and poetry of Trevor Thomas, b. South Wales, 1907. Appointed Keeper of the Department of Ethnology in the City of Liverpool Free Public museum, Thomas became a nationally known specialist in primitive art and for his innovative exhibition displays at the museum. Thomas was living in the apartment below Sylvia Path at the time of her death by suicide.

"The collection includes correspondence between Thomas and Aurelia Plath following her daughter’s suicide; correspondence with Linda Wagner–Martin, a biographer of Plath, including a typescript copy of parts of her book and an inscribed hard copy of the published text, Sylvia Plath: A Biography. It also includes legal documents, news clippings and testimony regarding Ted Hughes suit against Mr. Thomas for aggravated libel for comments made by Thomas in his self-published memoire, Sylvia Plath: Last Encounters."

In all the collection is about 200 items. An interesting association collection. To see the finding aid and to access other holdings at the Lilly, click here. This looks like the papers that bookseller Richard Ford was selling, which I posted on 25 April 2009. (It appears his copy of Last Encounters is still for sale.)

Thanks to Sophie Eleanor Turner for leading me to learn about this acquisition.
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