25 May 2010

Harper's Bizarre

There are at least two textual variations in Sylvia Plath's novel The Bell Jar that were introduced in 1996 when Harper's published their 25th anniversary edition.

In Chapter One, the paragraph "I knew something was wrong with me that summer, because all I could think about was the Rosenberg's...outside the slick marble and plate-glass fronts along Madison Avenue"and the sentence "I felt very still and very empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo" are both wrapped in parentheses.

While I have not taken a more in-depth look at the text before and after this in the novel, I find this quite bizarre. The Faber editions that I have consulted do not have the above passages parenthetically trapped. In reading the novel at least once a year and switching between Faber and Harper versions, sometimes I have felt as though some of the text was new or different.


Anonymous said...

I've noticed that, as well, and it is a little bizarre. I wonder what the reasoning was behind those changes?

Are there some passages missing from edition to edition? The edition I own of The Bell Jar has omitted some passages I recall from my first reading of the novel (from a different publisher, but I can't remember what it was).

Peter K Steinberg said...

That is curious, Anonymous. I wonder which passages were omitted from the edition/copy you read. It's had only three big publishers (Heinemann, Faber, and Harper). Plus book club editions. Interesting.


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