30 July 2010

A further sneak peak at Plath Profiles 3

In June, I posted that if any of the contributors were interested in publishing a guest post/abstract of their paper on this blog, to send something my way. This after detailing one of my papers that will be in Plath Profiles 3. One brave soul did!

The following was sent to me by Julia Gordon-Bramer, who contributes "Sylvia Plath's Spell on Ariel: Conjuring the Perfect Book of Poems Through Mysticism and the Tarot" to Plath Profiles 3. Julia says,

I first fell in love with the work of Sylvia Plath reading The Bell Jar, about twenty-two years ago. At that time, I hadn’t read any of her poetry, save for “Mad Girl’s Love Song,” which was printed in the back of my novel’s edition. I was strangely attracted to this poem, and I Xeroxed it at my work, carrying this little villanelle around in my wallet for many years, alongside pictures of my children and other important keepsakes. It meant that much to me, and I wasn’t even sure that I could explain why. Years later, I read more of her work, knowing little about form, theory, or how Plath’s poetry compared to other greats. All I knew was the sounds, the rhythms, and how her writing made me feel. I was caught in the spell.

Which leads me to my work today. As those at Plath Profiles know, I have been working diligently over the last three years, ultimately proving what began first as an observation: that Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes both constructed all of their work—poetry and prose—based upon the Tarot and other mystical systems. It has been the greatest work of my life and has taught me so much, as a person, as a scholar, and as a spiritual being. Better still, it has given me the blessing of being able to understand that so much of Plath’s work is not depressive, not crazy, but rather, full of hope and inspiration. This is the reason her work has so much staying power and readership; why plays and films and songs continue to be made about her almost fifty years after her death.

It feels a bit cruel for me to keep this blogs' readers hanging, announcing a complete reinterpretation for the greatest poetry and prose of our time without including the proof to back it up here. I do want to say that I am truly honored to be able to introduce an overview of my findings, balanced with a sample chapter of my book in-progress, first in Plath Profiles 3, due out this summer. I hope that you readers will enjoy the work as much as I have enjoyed the experience of discovery.

Oh, and despite my children growing up, and many (sometimes traumatic) changes in jobs, purses, wallets and husbands, I still have that same (well-taped) copy of “Mad Girl’s Love Song” with me. Sylvia Plath has always helped me to find beauty, even in the pain.

Julia Gordon-Bramer

Hi, it's me (Peter) again. Any thoughts?


Julia said...

Thank you for posting this, Peter! I am so excited for PP3!

Al said...

I've always been intrigued by the mystical aspect of Plath's work, so I will definitely read this paper in Plath Profiles. (Not that I wasn't already planning on perusing everything in the volume!).

L.A. said...

Julia is the real deal. I am v. excited and I have a hunch we will be hearing a great deal more about her and her work in the future, both in Plath Profiles, and beyond.

suki said...

Dear Julia
Have you checked out Ann Skea's website http://ann.skea.com/THHome.htm, where she talks about various issues like this including


NEW:April 2010 Ted Hughes: Occult Energies. A personal memoir: How I first became aware of Ted's knowledge and use of Mysticism, Alchemy and Cabbala, and his attitude to discussion of these occult arts. Published in Translation Cafe. No.94. Feb. 10. 2010. University of Bucharest, Romania


Julia said...

Oh yes, I have had written correspondence with Ann and bought her book, "Ted Hughes: The Poetic Quest." Much has been written about Hughes' alchemy, astrology and mysticism, but it has not been taken very seriously--and books like Ann's are somewhat complicated and intimidating to get through.

Scholars seem to have missed Plath's template of mysticism almost completely. I have said to friends and professors that I think one must be both a Plath scholar and a Tarot scholar to see it; there can't be a lot of types like me out there. I feel blessed beyond belief.

Anonymous said...

Hi Julia - Looking forward to reading your paper. Mary Kurtzman wrote an article on Plath and the Tarot - can't remember how long ago (1980's?) but I have a copy of it somewhere. Happy to send it to you if I can find it - Peter may have a copy as well. Kurtzman's article concentrates on Ariel - I think she had meant to write more on the subject, but what came of this, I don't know - I'm not aware that she ever did so. I agree it's a very intriguing angle. Ann is an inspiration and is a great source on this subject, esp. as it relates to Hughes' work. Do you know Tim Materer's work Modernist Alchemy: Poetry and the Occult? He also discusses Plath and Hughes' work, as well as Yeats, etc. kim

Julia said...

I address Mary Kurtzman's article in my upcoming Plath Profiles article. You will be surprised!

And yes, I have Materer's book as well. In fact, it's right beside me, on my desk. Fascinating stuff.

oximoron said...

I love Sylvia Plath! Thanx for this blog for Her!

Anonymous said...

Hi Julia - excellent!Re: Kurtzman -I was always hoping for more on the subject and am glad it is being addressed! Ann's work is fascinating - she really opened me up to a new interpretation of Birthday Letters, especially - and I'm in awe of her ability to put such an intricate system together, having just studied Cabala on her own. So glad that you will do the same for Plath - and it's great that even after all this time, more insight can be gleaned from her work. kim

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's all great. Really excited to read this essay. But when is the issue going up?

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Publications & Acknowledgements

  • BBC Four.A Poet's Guide to Britain: Sylvia Plath. London: BBC Four, 2009. (Acknowledged in)
  • Biography: Sylvia Plath. New York: A & E Television Networks, 2005. (Photographs used)
  • Connell, Elaine. Sylvia Plath: Killing the angel in the house. 2d ed. Hebden Bridge: Pennine Pens, 1998. (Acknowledged in)
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 3." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 119-138.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 4: Looking for New England." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012: 11-56.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 5: Reanimating the Past." Plath Profiles 6. Summer 2013: 27-62.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives, Redux." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 232-246.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives." Plath Profiles 2. Summer 2009: 183-208.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. These Ghostly Archives: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath. Oxford: Fonthill, 2017.
  • Death Be Not Proud: The Graves of Poets. New York: Poets.org. (Photographs used)
  • Doel, Irralie, Lena Friesen and Peter K. Steinberg. "An Unacknowledged Publication by Sylvia Plath." Notes & Queries 56:3. September 2009: 428-430.
  • Elements of Literature, Third Course. Austin, Tex. : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2009. (Photograph used)
  • Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Helle, Anita Plath. The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. (Photographs used, acknowledged in)
  • Helle, Anita. "Lessons from the Archive: Sylvia Plath and the Politics of Memory". Feminist Studies 31:3. Fall 2005: 631-652.. (Acknowledged in)
  • Holden, Constance. "Sad Poets' Society." Science Magazine. 27 July 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Making Trouble: Three Generations of Funny Jewish Women, Motion Picture. Directed by Rachel Talbot. Brookline (Mass.): Jewish Women's Archive, 2007. (Photograph used)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Karen V. Kukil. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. New York: Anchor Books, 2000. (Acknowledged in)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil (eds.). The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 1, 1940-1956. London: Faber, 2017. Forthcoming.
  • Plath, Sylvia. Glassklokken. Oslo: De norske Bokklubbene, 2004. (Photograph used on cover)
  • Reiff, Raychel Haugrud. Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Poems (Writers and Their Works). Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, 2008.. (Images provided)
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'A Fetish: Somehow': A Sylvia Plath Bookmark." Court Green 13. 2017.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'I Should Be Loving This': Sylvia Plath's 'The Perfect Place' and The Bell Jar." Plath Profiles 1. Summer 2008: 253-262.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 106-132.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "A Perfectly Beautiful Time: Sylvia Plath at Camp Helen Storrow." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 149-166.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Proof of Plath." Fine Books & Collections 9:2. Spring 2011: 11-12.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "The Persistence of Plath." Fine Books & Collections. Autumn 2017: 24-29
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "This is a Celebration: A Festschrift for The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3 Supplement. Fall 2010: 3-14.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Writing Life" [Introduction]. Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning. Stroud, Eng.: Fonthill Media, 2014.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. Sylvia Plath (Great Writers). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.