26 December 2011

2011 Sylvia Plath Info Year In Review

If it felt like a big year for Sylvia Plath it is because it was. There were periods of quiet, but that is fine as it gives us a chance to rest, reflect, write, etc.  I do find it hard to sum up a year but have in the past so will attempt to continue now...

Sadly, we lost two valuable contributors to Plath scholarship. In June, Jim Long passed away. And before that, quietly in February, Nephie Christodoulides. Nephie is the author of numerous articles on Plath, H.D. and others. Her book Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking: Motherhood in Sylvia Plath's Work was published in 2005 by Rodopi Editions in Amsterdam. You can read a review of Nephie's book by fellow Plath scholar Toni Saldivar here.

Books about Plath published this year were many and each provides valuable insight and a great contribution to the scholarship in Plath studies.

The year started off with a "bang, smash" in Heather Clark's The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes (review). We had time to digest this before a very busy summer and fall that saw Janet Badia’s Sylvia Plath and the Mythology of Women Readers (review), Tracy Brain and Sally Bayley's Representing Sylvia Plath (review), and Janet McCann's Critical Insights: The Bell Jar (review forthcoming) Plath appeared in one fictional book, Arlaina Tibensky's young adult novel And Then Things Fall Apart (review) Poetry "about Plath" written by David Trinidad and Christine Walde were published, too.  These are two very fine examples of Plath's readers responding and reacting to her work. And, with the good you have to take the bad... Lucas Myers' recent memoir An Essential Self: Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath which is an example of time spent that we will never get back.  But, to end on a good note, Plath Profiles 4 was published in July and featured a special section "Plath and Place" as guest edited by Gail Crowther. These essays, poems, and images are highly evocative of Sylvia Plath and the world she inhabited.

Perhaps the biggest news of the year came in October with the announcement of the exhibition in London of "Sylvia Plath: Her Drawings" which was curated by her daughter Frieda Hughes. Not afraid to ruffle feathers, it was learned (at least, by me) soon after the exhibit opened on 2 November that Frieda Hughes had put the drawings for sale and they were readily bought up by collectors, dealers, and maybe some other type of person. Many would have preferred these be sold to or donated to an archive where they would be made useful to Plath's researchers, but this was not the case. Time will tell how many will appear on the open market. If I catch wind of where some of them will reside and am allowed to do so I will pass on any information I can. The catalogue for the exhibition is marvelous, and offers full color pictures of the drawings in the exhibit (review).

As for this blog, in addition to a redesign I hope you enjoyed the content presented. A favorite of mine are the "Did you know..." posts, which I hope provides interesting factoids of information that may not have been previously known or thought about much.  In the winter and spring I did a big review of the archive of sold lots from the big auctions houses (Bonhams, Christie's, Sotheby's, Heritage) that featured Plath items. This turned up some interesting finds, and I hope all the links in each post to the lots still work.

I did have some fun - often at your expense and the expense of others, but also at mine -  in my 1st April post and in my faux book covers in my reviews of Sylvia Plath & the Mythology of Men Readers and Representing Sylvia Plath. Let not the mockery overshadow that these books do make significant contributions and advances in our understanding of Plath.

It was a grand year for meeting people. The platform of the blog enables me to reach hundreds or thousands of mostly anonymous people.  So, when it is possible to see someone live and in living color it adds something very real to the whole experience. In February I meet Heather Clark and Andrew Wilson. I later met Carl Rollyson and Stephen Gould Axelrod. More on Clark, Wilson, and Rollyson below.... In October I missed the chance to meet Maeve O'Brien of "The Plath Diaries" blog which I regret profoundly; and in November I met Gillian Groszewski.  I was very lucky to have spent roughly a month with Gail Crowther as she visited the US for the first time. We got up to some great Plathing in New York, Boston, Cape Cod, Northampton, Winthrop, and Wellesley, among other places. We even made a little video on Nahant... Gail spent a week at the Mortimer Rare Book Room at Smith and based on that and some archival work I have done, we will shortly be at work on a "These Ghostly Archvies 4," I hope. In the meantime, Gail contributed a Guest "Did you know..." Post in September as a result of that week...

And with what has passed, we look forward to what will come. In the long view, we learned that we should look forward to a few new biographies of Plath. Carl Rollyson, author of biographies on Lillian Hellman, Amy Lowell, Rebecca West, Marilyn Monroe, and many others, has turned his attention to Plath and will have a full-length biography entitled American Isis: The Life and Death of Sylvia Plath, which will be published circa February 2013. The writer Andrew Wilson, author of The Lying Tongue, Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith, and Shadow of the Titanic, is writing a biography of Plath from 1932 to roughly early 1956. Two words: highly anticipated! Two more words: completely unique! This is one that I am certain will shed a lot of light and focus on a comparatively ignored period of Plath's life. Andrew's book will be published by Simon & Schuster in UK and its Scribner imprint in the US. And in a few years, we have to look forward to a literary biography of Plath by Heather Clark, author of the recent The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes. Good luck to you all and thank you for your work.

Time will tell what else we can look forward to in 2012, but keep your eyes open for Plath Profiles 5 (and if you are writing something for it, thank you!). The deadline as in years past is on 1 April. On 30 April, Luke Ferretter's excellent critical study on Sylvia Plath's Fiction will be published in paperback (US and UK).  I have it in hardback and I will definitely buy it in paperback, too. According to Amazon.co.uk, a new issue of Janet Malcolm's The Silent Woman is expected on 7 June. Hopefully there will be more!

I have renewed the ownership of my website "A celebration, this is" for five years. So, with any luck you will keep hitting it and finding its content somewhat and somehow useful.  In the past I have listed the most and least popular pages on the site... so, the most popular pages were the biography page, the poetry works page, the Bell Jar page, photos 1960-1963,  and the prose works page. The least popular were … well, let's not beat a dead horse.... And, between the blog and the website, there have been more than 110,000 hits!

Something to read:

A number of people (well, two in the last few months) have sent me a link to "Jane and Sylvia" by Ruth Fainlight, which appeared in Crossroads, the journal of the Poetry Society of America, in Spring 2004. However, It first appeared with slightly different text on 12 December 2003 in the TLS under the title "Jane and Sylvia and Me."  Thanks Julia and Carmen!

And, Carl Rollyson has just published the provocative "Proprietary Biography" over on Bibliobuffet.com. A very recommended read.

Thank you all for reading theis blog, for following it, for leaving comments, and for your emails. Remember to check A Piece of Plathery and The Plath Diaries for other Plath blogishness. If you want to guest post on something just let me know, I am very open to this kind of thing and want as many voices out there as possible. Happy New Year.

10 comments :

A Piece of Plathery said...

Thank you Peter for your thorough and engaging dedication to all things Plath. Your blog is an everyday check-in place and I know my Plath study/collecting/knowledge/enjoyment would be much less and without it.

Thank you for the community you provide, for your generosity, for your humour and for your boundless enthusiasm.

Here is to a wonderful 2012 of Plath.

magiciansgirl said...

Peter, thank you for all your hard work on this blog and "A Celebration" - without you, we who love Plath would be much poorer in terms of comradery and information.

Peter K Steinberg said...

Plathery and Kim!!! Thank you both for your kind words. It's a two way street: I would never be doing this without your support and encouragement.

Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

Just an echo of thanks and kudos on my good friends, Plathery and Magician's Girl's posts. This is one of my favorite places to be on the Internet.

Anonymous said...

Me too! Keep up the fabulous fabulous work. Cath

Anonymous said...

Another wonderful Steinbergian Plath year -- thank you very much for all your sharing. We certainly got top Plathing on this summer - but I notice your startling omission of our evening watching The Bell Jar movie - the astonishment at how *well* it captured the essence of the novel ("ROAAAAR AAARGGG save them for my funeral" [wide eyed manic rocking]).
Happy New Year to everyone!
gail

Peter K Steinberg said...

Cath, thank you. It's nice to see you again. And Julia! Thanks for your comment.
Gail! That evening of The Bell Jar movie was frightening. Even thinking about it now gives me the shivers. The beer & cider definitely helped.

pks

The Plath Diaries said...

Thank you for continuing to provide such a wonderful SP resource Peter! I too was disappointed not to meet up but hopefully future events will conspire in our favour!

On the topic of Ruth Fainlight, did I mention to you that I met her in November? She does enjoy her white wine - and was a real pleasure to chat with! :)

I'm excitedly waiting for Carl Rollyson's biography: anyone who has dared to write Marilyn's bio will surely have experienced a lot of the same problems we Plath fans have!!

Hoping you have a wonderful 2012!
-Maeve

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Peter!

I hadn't heard about Andrew Wilson's book - great idea to focus on SP's childhood and the pre-Hughes years. They are often overlooked in the haste to "ride horseback" on Ariel and the tragedies that accompanied that time.

All the best & happy blogging!
~VC

Toni Saldivar said...

Thank you, Peter, for all you do to keep us informed.
How very sad that we have lost both Jim Long and Nephie Christodoulidis. I knew Nephie through the 2002 Plath Symposium at IU and also through Nephie's publications. She was an indefatigable scholar, a deeply perceptive interpreter of the poetry of Plath, H.D., and others, and she was also a warm and caring person. Her colleagues and students must miss her terribly; her family must be devastated. I have just learned that the University of Cyprus established the Nephie Christodoulides Memorial Lecture. The inaugural lecture was given November 16, 2011, by the poet and scholar Rachel Blau DuPlessis.

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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." Plath Profiles 2. Summer 2009: 183-208.
  • 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 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: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath. Oxford: Fonthill, 2017. Forthcoming.
  • 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.
  • Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Elements of Literature, Third Course. Austin, Tex. : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2009. (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. 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. Sylvia Plath (Great Writers). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.
  • 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. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 106-132.
  • 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. "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. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Writing Life" [Introduction]. Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning. Stroud, Eng.: Fonthill Media, 2014.

Interviews