12 January 2010

Update from the Archive Day 2

Should I be alarmed that I had so much joy looking for clippings? Should I be alarmed that I found quite a few absent from my bibliography which now means I'll have to go trolling through microfilm back home?

At one point today I had 7 different documents and one spreadsheet open on my computer as well as Google, A celebration, this is, and this blog.

There is so much in the archive - there really is no way to know that what I've looking for - that what I'm looking at - hasn't already been published before. I think the bibliography could go a long way towards reducing some kind of redundancy, if there is redundancy, in published articles and books. But, on my website I have a list of known (or a few supposedly known) works by Plath. I found accidentally about a dozen new poems or story titles that will help to make the list more complete. Plath's early diaries are full of lovely, wonderful, charming and accomplished artworks. Each time I see them I grow more and more fond of them. This is where a book like Kathleen Connors and Sally Bayley's Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath's Art of the Visual is so important. While the essays are excellent, the main attraction are all the illustrations (in full glorious color). Today revealed to me a few bits of information so interesting I hesitate to dump it all down now when I could just stretch it out, feeling our addiction.

As I mentioned yesterday, today's main goal was clippings. So the poems and stories I didn't know existed, or the books to add to Plath's Library on LibraryThing, or the other interesting facts were extras. Most of the clippings I found were from the 1940s. These are just where Plath's name was in the newspaper for various accomplishments. While traditionally left out of existing bibliographies, I intend to include them in mine. The Mortimer Rare Book Room has a box or two of clippings and articles, and they've geniously organized them in chronological order with two distinctions: those likely seen by Plath and those published after her death. Naturally the latter outnumber the former, but how interesting is it regardless?

So, we all know Plath's first published poem was from the 10 August 1941 Boston Herald. She was listed as 8 1/2 in the byline. I found a clipping from a year later, in August 1942, in which Plath was a winner of a "Funny Face" competition. It is unknown which paper it was in, but this does represent her second publication, and likely her first published artwork. She published artwork, as well, in the Wellesley Townsman later on in the 1940s, and in the 1950s she regularly published both articles and illustrations in the Christian Science Monitor.

I hope that I saw all the clippings in the collection but I'm willing to bet there are others in boxes and folders not browsed. I ended the day by looking at the Plath mss. V, their recently acquired materials which I posted on in September. These are lovely documents, but I didn't have enough time to read everything. There is the one get well card card that I included on my end of the year post, there is a Christmas Booklet with original poems and writings (one of the pages illustrates this post to the left), and The Treasures of Sylvia Plath from 1945, in which Plath lists the titles of books she read and a favorite quote -"treasure"-, moral or summary. This is all for now!

Tomorrow begins the longest part of my research, which will involve reading/perusing all of her high school, college, and graduates school papers! And if my eyes don't fall out of my head I'll have more to say!


panther said...

Peter, you evoke very well the intensity of research. Whenever I've done any, I find that the subject in question takes on an extraordinary vividness while ordinary stuff-travel arrangements, drinking a cup of coffee, this sort of thing-rather fall away.

I wish you another beautiful day of research. And beware of eye-strain!

Peter K Steinberg said...

Thanks Sheila! This has already been an amazing trip and I'm just entering my third of six research days! I've found enough stuff to be able to blog about this experience for a whole year!


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