20 April 2011

Do You Plath in a Land Down Under?

Readers of Sylvia Plath, be on the lookout for Eavan Boland’s A Journey with Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet (published April 11, 2011, by W. W. Norton & Company). In addition to "The Other Sylvia Plath," Boland writes on herself, Adrienne Rich, Charlotte Mew, Elizabeth Bishop, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Denise Levertov, Anne Bradstreet, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Paula Meehan.

Thanks to Melanie in Australia for bringing this to our attention. Most of the chapter on Plath can be read if you do not mind toggling between Amazon.com and Google Books.

Additionally, S. A Jones has a piece entitled "A Peanut-Cruncher’s Defence: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes" in Kill Your Darlings (issue 5, pages 51-64). The article is very well written and argued. It gives a brief review of the history of why we should probably hate Ted Hughes, centering on the who owns the facts of ones (SP's) life; but it evens out I feel and gives ample evidence as to why we should probably not hate Ted Hughes. In the article, Jones is at her best when she points out:

"But what precisely did Hughes mean by 'owning the facts'? That others have no right to speculate on what is uniquely ours? Perhaps. But if that is what Hughes meant, he snookered himself by appropriating so many of the 'facts' of Plath's life, thereby inviting and possibly demanding the very contestation he decried."

I feel this was and is the crux of what could be called Hughes' Hypocrisy. While I do kind of feel his 1989 comments are almost hackneyed at this point, it is something that pops up from time to time. It is similar to, say, the insanity of including the image of the 20-year-old Guest Editor Plath smiling and holding a rose on the back of the 1971 edition of The Bell Jar by Harper & Row. If you did not want or do not want that novel to be read autobiographically, then why include a photograph of Plath which is a pictorial representation of a scene in the novel, which is excerpted just above the image? Did they have the word "Duh" in 1971? You're asking for conflation!

Anyway, I enjoyed Jones' article immensely.

Moving away from Australia for a second... keep an eye out for "The Role of Second-Person Narration in Representing Mental States in Sylvia Plath's Smith Journal" by Zsâoâofia Demjâeâen. This essay appears in Journal of Literary Semantics. 40, no 1, 2011: 1-21.

And back to Australia. Thanks to Suki for the following head’s up about a Plath reference on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) show "Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo." The show is set between 1972- 1975, and in Monday night’s episode, lines from Plath's "Lady Lazarus" were part of the soundtrack. After they'd been spoken, someone said to Ita Buttrose (the editor and heroine played by Asher Keddie), "She was a magazine Editor too you know. Which Magazine? Mademoiselle?"


Melanie Smith said...

As always, thank you muchly for the updates!

Peter K Steinberg said...

And thank you muchly for the head's up on Boland's book.


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