29 January 2010

Links, reviews, etc. - Week ending 29 January 2009

Later on this year (26 May), look for Anna Jackson's Diary Poetics: Form and Style in Writers' Diaries, 1915-1962. New York: Routledge, 2010. I mention this, as there is a chapter on Plath, as one might expect. It is in the series Routledge studies in twentieth-century literature. ISBN is 9780415998314.

Also, later this year (31 May), see Neil Corcoran's Shakespeare and the Modern Poet. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. I mention this, as there is a chapter on Plath, as one might expect, "Survivor of Cease: Shakespeare and Sylvia Plath in Ted Hughes's Poems."

Luke Ferretter and Nephie Christodoulides have published articles in Woolf Editing/Editing Woolf: Selected Papers from the Eighteenth Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf: University of Denver, Denver, Colorado, 19-22 June, 2008. Clemson, SC: Clemson University Digital Press, 2009, edited by Eleanor McNees and Sara Veglahn. See Nephie's essay "On Not Being Able to Paint: Writing Inhibitions and Self-Editing in Virginia Woolf's and Sylvia Plath's Fiction" and see Luke's essay "'The Influence of Somebody upon Something': To the Lighthouse in Sylvia Plath's Work." You can order a copy for $22.95. I'm not sure if there are any other papers dealing with Plath in this publication, but will report back once I receive my copy.

I also found, recently, an article by Steven Gould Axelrod in the book Alienation, which is in Bloom's Literary Criticism series. See pages 11-20 to read "Alienation and Renewal in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar."

John Barber from the Globe and Mail published "Fine Writers, Lousy Spouses" on Wednesday.

Please note that ladylazarus.tv has been updated with a slideshow and movie.

It certainly seems as though there is, suddenly, a lot to look forward to this year!

23 January 2010

Links, reviews, etc. - week ending 23 January 2010

I recently learned of three new articles.

Travis, Isabelle. "'I Have Always Been Scared of You': Sylvia Plath, Perpetrator Trauma and Threatening Victims." European Journal of American Culture Vol 28, No. 3. October 2009: 277-293.

Tunstall, Lucy. "Aspects of Pastoral in Sylvia Plath's 'Child'." English Vol. 58, No. 222. Autumn 2009: 230-242.

Wilcockson, Colin. "Ted Hughes' Undergraduate Years at Pembroke College, Cambridge: Some Myths Demystified." Agenda Vol. 44, No. 4/Vol. 45, No. 1. Winter 2009: 147-153.

In the Wilcockson article, he was given permission to quote from Daniel Huws' forthcoming Memories of Ted Hughes, 1952-1963, published on 1 April 2010 by Richard Hollis. Right now it only seems available through Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.ca. It's a good thing they invented airplanes.

Also published by Richard Hollis on 1 April is Poems and Journals, 1960-1968 by Susan Alliston, Ted Hughes contributed the introduction.

While we're looking at Ted Hughes, on 31 March, Ted Hughes and Jim Downer's Timmy the Tug will be published in the US. On 22 June, Edward Hadley's The Elegies of Ted Hughes will be released in the US. At $80, it's a good thing they invented libraries.

Plath Profiles is still accepting papers, poems, artwork and other submissions for the forthcoming third issue. Deadline for submissions is fast approaching: 15 April 2010. Amanda Golden and Hilary Holladay are the guest editors, and Amanda has requested submissions on Sylvia Plath and material culture. Please note the submission deadline for papers on Plath and material culture is 15 March. With this number we'll surpass St. Botolph's Review! Beginning in a few weeks, Plath Profiles will be indexed through MLA, this should greatly assist in the journal reaching more people, farther afield!

Another paper was published via Student Pulse: Sylvia Plath's "Bee Sequence": A Microcosm of Poetic Development Natasha L. Richter.

If there is anything I forgot can you please let me know?

20 January 2010

Cinderella/Twelfth Night

Today I visited briefly the Schlesinger Library in Cambridge, Mass., to browse through their holdings of the magazines Seventeen and Mademoiselle. I was looking for some information based on notes I took at Indiana last Tuesday on my "Clippings Day". The Lilly holds some letters Plath received from Seventeen about a poem entitled "Cinderella." Being somewhat familiar with Plath's publications, this struck me as strange. So I wanted to look through the years 1952-1954 just to see if something was missed by others (my thought was maybe it was printed late in 1953 when she was recovering at McLean from her nervous breakdown and suicide attempt).

I pulled up "Cinderella" on the computer and then it hit me: I'm an idiot. "Cinderella" was published, but under the title "Twelth Night" in the October 1952. I don't recall seeing any letters (in the places I looked) suggesting or requesting a title change. I hope this wasn't just news to me... Anyway, "Twelfth Night" does not appear in Collected Poems, though "Cinderella" does.

Anyway, in the process I found this advert...




I wonder how she really felt about the photographer?

16 January 2010

Update from the Archive Day 5 and a half

Bleerb buhb Lilly gungdsr*#@ Plath a09jdnjh!!! Flidpo finger breaking slitherbeck!

What a week! This morning I continued works through Box 7a, reading poems listed (or not) and uncollected in Collected Poems. Most of these works were written before 1955, some contain edit suggestions by professors, annotations by her mother, and so on. Her development from those poems in the 1940s to those written at Smith is so wonderful to see. As it stands if you read Collected Poems, you kind of just jump right into the middle - or even well past the middle. But, working through the poems alphabetically as one does in an archive, the years dissolve away and it's just Plath. Plath being Plath. A new collected poems that goes back to at least 1950 -to bring the poems more in line with the Journals, Stories, and Letters - would be great. However, as not all copies are dated sometimes it would be quite difficult to place some of them. But the right person or people I feel could figure something out. For example, starting around 1947, Plath's poetry started using ;'s to end lines moreso than before - and after her suicide attempt in 1953, a lot of the poetry was lowercase (to begin lines). One thing that was always there was use of exclamation (!) and the em dash (---) to end a line. Just think about those Ariel poems with their heavy use of both --- and !

Once this was done I called for Ted Hughes mss II to read through the letters Hughes and Plath wrote to Hughes' brother Gerald in Australia. And, in the last half hour the sap in me called the Lameyer mss. to see the color photographs and slides of Plath. These are so lovely and wonderful (the cover of Anita Helle's The Unraveling Archive uses one of these pictures) - and the first paper back of Alexander's Rough Magic uses another (the one of Plath up against a tree).

This was a truly great week for the projects I'm working on, made possible by the the Lilly Library's Helm Visiting Fellowship and the support of this blogs readers. If I can quantify for you the result of these five and a half days, I took 149 pages of notes: that's 27.09 pages of notes per day or 3 pages per hour. I've got my work cut out for me once I get back home with regards to hunting through microfilm for full citations for clippings. Updating Plath's library on LibraryThing will be another project that I can work on more leisurely from home. But already this week I've added a title and information to some of the books so keep an eye out! Please excuse whilst I take some time off!

15 January 2010

Update from the Archive Day 5

Day five, hours 37-45, the last last full day - the last massive breakfast followed by a concentration-induced fast. I started this morning off with Plath's 1945 summer journal from Camp Helen Storrow. She spent from 1 July through 15 July near Cape Cod at Camp Helen Storrow. The journal captured her daily schedule, the menus of food she ate at mealtime, and the day-to-day "Dear Diary" entries, to name but a few. On my last trip to the Lilly in June 2008, I read through all the early letters she wrote basically everything pre-1950. So, I had a good foundation of knowledge of what her time at camp was like. You might be wondering, "Hey, guy who spends too much time on Plath, why so interested in her time at Camp Helen Storrow?" Well, two years ago, I had the opportunity to spend some time at the campsite, which is now a private residence. Many of the cabins, though now a little derelict, are still standing. The main camp house is the families residence now - but the tennis court, softball field, beach area and lake are still there. As are the trading post and infirmary. One of these days I'll do a little illustrated essay.

After this, I moved on to their other newly acquired colled, the Thomas, T. mss, ca. 1976-1990. These are legal documents, clippings, correpsondence and other materials related to Trevor Thomas, the man who lived below Plath during the last few months of her life. The correspondence (non-legal) was interesting - notable letters to or from Linda Wagner-Martin, Olwyn Hughes, Clarissa Roche, and Elizabeth Sigmund. I daresay I may have learn a thing or two about Plath finals weeks today - but have to get home to brush up on other Thomasiana such as his self-published memoir Last Encounters. While the letters had some interesting stuff, the bibliography I'm compiling will be most improved by this foray as it'll be a half-dozen or so articles bigger. Doing a bibliography is frustrating because it will never be complete! After three years of building it I should know this - I do know this but I'm just at the point of wilfull denial.

The rest of the was spent reading through the uncollected poems - those listed (or not) in the Juvenilia section of Collected Poems, but not printed among those selected 50.

Tomorrow the Lilly is open for 4 hours only, so I have no idea really on what I'm going to spend my time. But I better make it count!

14 January 2010

Update from the Archive Day 4


This is going to be a shorter post, I think, than the previous days. I concluded my examination of Plath's school notebooks and reading lists, all the way through Cambridge. I would have gone through her teaching notes from her time as instructor at Smith College (1957-1958), but I feel that Amanda Golden's work on Plath's teaching syllabus expertly & thoroughly covers this period of her reading life. Much of this information is already in LibraryThing, as a result - so I thought it would be best to move on to other parts of the archive. I think that might be my longest link ever.

I do want to say that whilst I was perusing her Cambridge notes in Box 13, Folder 5, I found a couple of typed poems that had been used as scrap paper for note taking. The papers were ripped in half. The poems I found were "Firesong" (last stanza only), "Metamorphosis", which Plath retitled "Faun", and a poem entitled "Song", which Plath eventually renamed "Song for a Summer's Day".

What struck me about "Song" first was the title. When I looked up the first line, it was revealed to me that it was "Song for a Summer's Day". But in the version I found online, it was a poem of four stanzas. The version in Box 13, folder 5 was six stanzas! The sixth stanza, as well, was six lines whilst the first five stanzas were five lines each. There are several textual differences, the length of the poem aside. I don't have my Collected Poems with me, so I'm unsure right now if this variant version is printed in the back or not. However, the version that was printed in the Christian Science Monitor on August 18, 1959 (page 8) is the same that I found online. Nevertheless, once I'm home I can do a little more research on this!

I spent the rest of the afternoon working a bit on an article for Plath Profiles 3, and then look through Plath Mss IV. The letter's to the Kane's and to Elizabeth (Compton) Sigmund were very good to read. You get a sense of the day-to-day of the springtime with gardening and weeding. But, by the time mid-July through September rolled around, of course it was a different story.

Today concluded early for me as my fingers, hands and wrists were hurting from all the typing. The numbness of my dinner Guinness is starting to fade, so I shall have to sign off... I spent the last half hour browing the exhibition cases in the entry room to the library. The Lilly is setting up for the 50th anniversary exhibit this week and though the exhibit opens on Tuesday, getting to see them set up has been interesting. If you are interested in the finest of the rare books the world has ever known, then you'll want to keep an eye out for this exhibit. There are many times you can see - in the same room - a copy of Tamerlane by A Bostonian (Edgard Allen Poe), a first folio of Shakespeare, a gorgeous double elephant folio of Audubon's Birds of America (opened to Crow), a signed/inscribed Martin Luther King Jr. (across from a book by Martin Luther), Copernicus' De Revolutionibus, J M Barrie's handwritten Peter Pan, a Gutenberg Bible, Orson Welles script for Citizen Kane, and so so so much more. The recent Sylvia Plath acquisition (Plath mss V) will be on display as well.

13 January 2010

Update from the Archive Day 3

Or, Sylvia Plath was smart.

Today was one of those days where one just goes on autopilot. Somehow, I took more than 20 pages of notes; 17 of those pages - gulp - are books to add to her library on LibraryThing. And I'm not even done! I looked through her junior high, high school, and college notebooks, and mixed in there was her Modern Art course notes, which she audited during the Spring of 1958. While I got through much more today than I thought, I also found much more than I anticpated. Truly amazing stuff. Now the course notes for Religion, English, other subjects don't really interest me, one gem jumped out as unusual.

Though labeled by Plath "Art", one notebook seems to be notes for subjects other than art. There were notes on child development, religion, and other topics. Possibly this one was used, also, as a notebook for her time as Press Board correspondent. But in addition, this one "Art" notebook seems to have been used, in August of 1951, as a journal to capture some thoughts and experiences during her time as a babysitter for the Mayo's. (See Box 11, folder 4).

Speaking of Press Board. The Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College holds typescripts of Plath's press board correspondent submissions. These are untitled non-fiction works that detail the goings-on of the Smith campus for the local and regional newspapers. While Tabor lists only one clipping to Plath during her time on Press Board, I had about 45 hours to spare last year and went through 1952 and 1953 microfilms for the Daily Hampshire Gazette, the Springfield Daily News, and the Springfield Union. In the process, using said typescripts, I found 26 unattributed publications by Sylvia Plath! Some of these had the editorial treatment before they were printed - but they are still recognizable to Plath's submitted releases.

Now getting back to this notebook having a journal entry. Sylvia Plath archival materials are widely dispersed. Due to the nature of the stuff, there is some overlap with what Smith holds and what Indiana holds (these are the big two). Emory University's holdings add to the mix significantly. But, it is truly necessary to go to the archives frequently. Depending on the day, week, month or year you go, your are bound to see new things and in new ways. This makes for quite an enriching and enlivening experience - one in which I hope you can feel too in reading these updates.

Unlike yesterday, today day seemed far more focused so at its peak I had open only two documents and five web pages. However, overall it was a depressing day. I'm hardly the brightest crayon in the box, but Sylvia Plath was better read at 12 than I am at 35. By the time she graduated Smith, she was better read than I will be at 335 years old. Today was one of those days where the drinks tab at dinner more than doubled that of the food.

The art teacher, by the way, for Plath's undergraduate art course in which notebook was used for capturing things other than art, was Mr. Manzi. This name shoud ring a bell, if not, perhaps I will have to jar your memory?

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!

11 January 2010

Update from the Archive Day 1

Today was the first day of my research trip at the Lilly Library. I travelled from Boston through Washington DC to Indianapolis by air, and then to Bloomington on the shuttle bus. The total travel time from when I left the house was about 9 hours. It was a beautiful day to fly, the whole eastern seaboard was cloud free: Manhattan and Philadelphia were quite easily spotted. The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia gave way after a while to a flat, snow cover land.

What I focused on today was the correpsondence between 1960 and 1963. Looking for needles in haystacks is never easy and not always rewarding. My reason for spending the day on them is because I am working of a project that must remain ill-defined for now. These letters were at first such a joy to read, but as always after spring 1962 the story takes a turn.

Many of the letters are printed in Letters Home, but not all of them. And while the 1982's Journals are quite transparent about edits and omissions, the letters are not. In Letters Home, an ellipsis usually does mean edited text but one is never quite sure. The letters show moreso than anything I've ever read, how difficult a time it was for Plath. Meeting and/or corresponding with Plath's friends such as Elizabeth Sigmund can help to explain some things: but they are hard to read - and that is putting it mildly.

This letter reading (and comparing to the printed Letters Home) ook most of the day - and by 5 or so my mind was just about fried.

With the remaining time of the day, I called for the first group of manuscripts the Lilly acquired of Plath's; those poems and work sheets from The Colossus and many of the poems written in 1961. The particular poem I called was "Wuthering Heights". The draft of this poem appears on the back of a typed, but unpublished poem entitled "Home Thoughts from London."

The composition of this poem can be dated to late October or early November 1960. The address at the top is 3 Chalcot Square and in the poem Plath mentioned pushing her baby girl in the pram up Primrose Hill. The "Home Thoughts" taken the speaker back to Massachusetts: to it's colorful autumn outside of Boston and to a high school (American) football game. Is it her best poem ever? Clearly not but it was one I didn't realize existed until I started preparing for the trip.

Tomorrow I plan to shift gears and examine clippings. Clippings, clippings, and more clippings.
-----
Hey, I just found out I had an article published in the September 2009 Notes & Queries! The article was co-written by Irralie Doel and Lena Friesen, and gives details about "The Perfect Place" (working title "The Lucky Stone"), the story that Plath published that went unacknowledged for more than four decades! Check it out.

09 January 2010

Links, reviews, etc. - week ending 9 January 2010

A round-up of recent and relatively recent news, reviews, and stuff.


07 January 2010

Sylvia Plath: Did you know...


In Letters Home, Plath wrote to her mother on October 12, 1962, that "I am a famous here--mentioned this week in The Listener as one of the half-dozen women who will last--including Marianne Moore and the Brontës!."

Did you know that the article to which she refers was by fellow poet Elizabeth Jennings. It was in Jennings review of Mrs. Browning by Alethea Hatyer? The article appeared in the September 13, 1962 issue of The Listener, on page 400. The paragraph in which Plath's name is mentioned reads, "Mrs Browning labours under the burden which all women poets have to carry - the fact of being a woman. Memorable English or American poets can be numbered on less than two hands; one thinks of Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore, Edith Sitwell's early work, Anne Ridler, Kathkeen Raine, Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, and scarcely anyone else..."

It must have tickled Plath, particularly, to be mentioned in the same breath as Marianne Moore who snubbed Plath on a number of occasions, most recently to that date by refusing to recommend the Knopf edition of The Colossus, published earlier that year. To read a bit more on Plath's relationship with Moore, please read Vivian R. Pollak's "Moore, Plath, Hughes, and 'The Literary Life'" in American Literary History 17:1. Spring 2005: 95-117. For the bit about Moore on The Colossus see page 109 in the essay.

03 January 2010

Additional book to look forward to in 2010

After the previous post, I found out about this forthcoming title by Lesley McDowell, Between the Sheets: Nine 20th Century Women Writers and Their Famous Literary Partnerships.

Look for this book on March 4, 2010 (Overlook Press) in the US and May 20, 2010 (Duckworth) in the UK. In Saturday's Irish Times, in a preview of the years books, Between the Sheets is mentioned with this quote, concerning Plath, "Lesley McDowell looks at literary love affairs, asking why,for instance, Sylvia Plath stumbled into a marriage that drove her to suicide." Plath and Hughes even made the cover!

About the book:

"The list of tortured sexual relationships between female writers and their male literary partners is long, but each relationship provokes the same question: would these women have become the writers they did without the experience of their own particular literary relationship?

"Focusing on the diaries, letters, and journals of each woman, Between the Sheets explores nine famous literary liaisons of the twentieth century. Lesley McDowell examines the extent to which each woman was prepared to put artistic ambition before personal happiness, and how dependent on their male writing partners each one felt themselves to be. She reveals how in many instances, their partnerships encouraged artistic innovation, established literary reputations, and liberated unspoken desires. Between the Sheets is a fascinating glimpse into the emotional and artistic lives of these great writers, and those of the men they chose to share their lives with."

01 January 2010

Sylvia Plath - 2010 Anticipated Publications

Will 2010 bring some great new publications? Here are a few I've found out about so far:

There is the eagerly anticipated Sylvia Plath's Fiction by Luke Ferretter, which on Amazon.co.uk is slated for release on 31 July 2010.

In May, Faber is releasing a new hardback of Ariel.

Look for Last Looks, Last Books: Stevens, Plath, Lowell, Bishop, Merrill by Helen Vendler in April.

There are bound to be additional publications.

And please don't forget: Plath Profiles 3 is under way. We have Amanda Golden and Hilary Holladay on as guest editors. Amanda has asked for essays on Sylvia Plath and Material Culture. We're still accepting submissions...
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