29 May 2012

Sylvia Plath's Tragedy Paper

One more brief post about Sylvia Plath and Cambridge that has grabbed my attention since the recent story about the skeletal remains of a woman, mouse & shrew to be back on exhibit in Cambridge after a long storage away from the public's eye.

Sylvia Plath is considered a "Cambridge Author." It is on the website just linked to where we find something quite interesting about Plath's course in Tragedy. What you will find is "an examination of her work in the light of her academic experience in Cambridge. She studied the Tragedy paper - a cornerstone of the course from the very start - and resonances with the material she read for it can be identified in her writing."

The site is broken into different parts, one being "Sylvia Plath and the Tragedy Paper."

One of the more interesting pages and links appears in the section "The Tragedy Paper: Continuity and Change." It is here that a link is included to a PDF of the actual exam paper/test Plath took on 29 May 1957, which was 55 years ago today.

As she read for the Tragedy paper, Plath caputured some of the exhaustion-inducing prepartion she was doing, such as in this letter to her mother from 28 April 1957: "I am living at the University library from morning to night... enjoying my work, really, steadily reading tragedy now, the Greeks, then on through 2,000 years up to Eliot, concentrating on several major figures: Corneille, Racine, Ibsen, Strindberg, Webster, Marlowe, Tourneur, Yeats, Eliot; there are so many. This tragedy paper (only a 3-hour exam for all that) is a fine help on my reading" (308). The morning of the paper, Plath wrote, "I am taking time early this sunny morning to limber up my stiff fingers in preparation for my Tragedy exam this afternoon..." (314).

All in all a very good, interesting website. Thank you English department at Cambridge University.

Plath's papers from her two years at Cambridge are largely -if not all- held in Plath mss II. at the Lilly Library, Indiana University at Bloomington. Some of her papers and books from this period are also there. An examination of these papers and books and notes and the English/British education of Sylvia Plath might make a fine paper for someone to submit to Plath Profiles?


Anonymous said...

This blog is so interesting and informative. It always presents such great posts that give, at least, me a lot to think about. I like how the focus is always on Plath. Thank you.

Laura Cherau said...

I love this post!

Peter K Steinberg said...

Laura! This post loves you!


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