13 October 2010

Karen Kukil on Plath's letters to Clarissa Roche

Karen V. Kukil, Associate Curator of Rare Books and Curator of the Sylvia Plath Collection at the Mortimer Rare Book Room, was interviewed today by WFCR's Jill Kaufman about the new letters from Plath to Clarissa Roche and the Plath collection at Smith College. Listen to it here.


Anonymous said...

Excellent - thanks for posting this, Peter. These letters will be very helpful in researching her writing from that time, especially since the journals are not available. kim

panther said...

These letters sound fascinating, with their mixture of daily detail, major upset. . .and humour, too !

But Plath drafted THE BELL JAR while at Smith ? No, no, no. Given that the events it fictionalizes didn't happen until the end of her third year there, that would be almost impossible. THE BELL JAR was written in England, partly in London, partly in Devon. . .It frustrates me that so many journalists are sloppy with easily-checked facts.

Peter K Steinberg said...

I agree Panther! And right off the bat, too. I thought Karen did an amazing job of talking the letters, describing the thrill of receiving them and fitting them into not only their collection at Smith, but within the collection of information available on Plath too. & she's right, Plath's letters to her friends are such a different thing to anything else she wrote, especially letters to her mother.

Not to be too nit-picking but evidence suggest Plath was finished drafting The Bell Jar by 22 August 1961, which was about 9 days before they moved to Court Green. Plath likely only dealt with revisions and galley correcting in Devon. It was accepted quickly between 22 August 1961 and November of that year.

There are three largely incomplete "drafts" at Smith, as well as two "later" drafts. The later draft is really one draft: the original and its carbon copy. The original has edits both by Plath and her editors at Heienemann.


panther said...

I think many of us write different sorts of letters to our friends than we do to our relations, don't we ? Especially if a relationship with a relation is strained, which Sylvia's ceratinly was with Aurelia. Close, certainly, in many ways, too close. Suffocating.

The quotes that Karen Kukil reads out give the impression of a determined and humorous woman who will not be easily downed.

Peter K Steinberg said...

Absolutely I agree. As Plath's letters to her mother are the only widely available material in this genre, though, I think Karen's point is that the pictures some paint of Plath is missing some color.

Very nice impression of Karen's selected quotes; I couldn't agree more!


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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.