22 May 2010

Heather Clark: The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes

Look for Heather Clark's The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes expected to be published this fall by Oxford University Press.

From OUP's website:

  • The first intertextual analysis of Plath's and Hughes's poetry since the opening of Ted Hughes's archive at Emory University
  • Contains analysis of unpublished manuscripts, including Hughes's Birthday Letters poems and a selection of Plath's lost novel, Falcon Yard
  • Offers a cultural history of the 1950s Anglo-American poetry scene in addition to close readings of Plath's and Hughes's work

Throughout their marriage, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes engaged in a complex and continually evolving poetic dialogue about writing, love, and grief. Although scholars have commented extensively on the biographical details of Plath's and Hughes's marriage, few have undertaken a systematic intertextual analysis of the poets' work. The Grief of Influence reappraises this extraordinary literary partnership, and shows that the aesthetic and ideological similarities that provided a foundation for Plath's and Hughes's creative marriage - such as their mutual fascination with D. H. Lawrence and motifs of violence and war - intensified their artistic rivalry. Through close readings of both poets' work and analysis of new archival sources, Clark reveals for the first time how extensively Plath borrowed from Hughes and Hughes borrowed from Plath. She also explores the transatlantic dynamics of Plath's and Hughes's 'colonial' marriage within the context of the 1950s Anglo-American poetry scene and demonstrates how each poet's misreadings of the other contributed to the damaging stereotypes that now dominate the Plath-Hughes mythology. Following Plath and Hughes through alternating periods of collaboration and competition, The Grief of Influence shows how each poet forged a voice both through and against the other's, and offers a new assessment of the twentieth century's most important poetic partnership.

The details: 328 pages | 234x156mm| 978-0-19-955819-3 | Hardback | November 2010 (estimated)

Also by Heather:
"Tracking the Thought-Fox: Sylvia Plath's Revision of Ted Hughes." Journal of Modern Literature 28:2. Winter 2005: 100-112.

"'Wilful Revisionism': Rivalry and Remaking in the Early Work of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes." Symbiosis: A Journal of Anglo-American Literary Relations 9:2. October 2005: 174-191.


Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting - thanks for letting us know! ~VC

George Fitzgerald said...

Peter, your "liner notes" on Plath's "The Spoken Word" are precisely and richly informative and interesting. The CD is a treasure; I don't think I'd previously heard Hughes's voice, and I love the two of them together, in love, chatting ... it calls up a nice picture in my mind of the happier times they shared. Thanks again for keeping all we Plathians informed of what is out there!


P.Viktor said...

This book sounds genuinely interesting (even though I think it is thematically similar to Diane Middlebrook's excellent Her Husband). What I don't like is the £50 price tag. Is it bound in gold?

Peter K Steinberg said...

The price does indeed seem a bit steep, yet I do think it will be a very important addition to Plath scholarship in a very different way to Middlebrook's biography. For most, though I suspect it'll be a library book.

George- so, so glad you liked the British Library CD. And that you made it through the liner notes qualifies you for a medal or something!!


Jamie H. said...

I was particularly interested to hear that part of "Falcon Yard" will be included--I wasn't even aware that the novel fragments had been verified (from my understanding, most of the info we had about her other 2 (?) novels was based on rumors by Aurelia Plath or other people close to SP & TH). Was "Falcon Yard" discovered in Hughes' vault? And is there any way to access it otherwise? Color me thrilled.

Peter K Steinberg said...


Thanks for your comment. Parts of the novel Falcon Yard exist in draft and are held with with the Hughes papers (Plath subseries) at Emory University. This very topic was recently discussed on this very blog. See, particularly, the comments. The Hughes "vault" (trunk) at Emory is still sealed, so far as I know so while they could be considered as discovered, the archivists at Emory knew about them before we did.

Please note Clark's book includes an analysis of Falcon Yard, not the novel itself.


Rehan Qayoom said...

A much needed and very expensive book!

Julia said...

Sounds like this author/book will well-support my own scholarly findings. I'm excited to read it!

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