21 June 2012

Forget Summer: Sylvia Plath Books in Winter 2013

Is it too early to look at 2013? It is now officially summer, which means the countdown to winter and 2013 has begun. We will lose daylight like I am losing hair...

But, while it might indeed be early, the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Colossus in America has me thinking again about the 50th anniversary of two major Sylvia Plath events that occurred in 1963. The first was the publication of The Bell Jar in England on January 14, 1963; and the second - you might have guessed - was her death on February 11.

Keep in mind since it is so far out, the dates below might change.

On 3 January 2013, Faber will publish a new edition of The Bell Jar. I have been dreaming that Faber can or will re-use the original cover.

And as you might imagine, Plath will be the subject of dozens of articles, but also a few monographs. Below is a list of what's expected so far.

Mad Girl's Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted by Andrew Wilson (Simon & Schuster Ltd) 31 January UK ; US.

The Mademoiselle Summer: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 by Elizabeth Winder (Chatto & Windus) 7 February, UK. (Scheduled to be published in the US on 29 January 2013 as Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953).

The word on Winder's book: "In June of 1953, Sylvia Plath came to New York City to work as an intern at Mademoiselle magazine. For twenty-six days, the bright, blonde, 21-year old from Wellesley, Massachusetts would go to Balanchine ballets, have lunch with Mademoiselle’s editor-in-chief, type rejection letters to writers from the New Yorker, stalk Dylan Thomas at the White Horse Tavern and in the hallway of his hotel. She threw all her clothes off the balcony of her hotel and kept only a white bathrobe. She went to the theatre and discovered her signature drink (vodka, no ice). Pain, Parties, Work—the three words Plath used in her journal to describe New York—is an examination of that crucial summer. Winder argues that New York changed Plath’s relationships with men and her friendships with women; and gave her the life experience, for better and for worse, to write The Bell Jar. A biography of a moment in time starring the girl who would become the greatest and most influential poet of the twentieth century." (source: page 8)

We should note that in June 1953, Plath was still 20 years old.

American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath by Carl Rollyson (St. Martin's Press) is scheduled to be published on 22 January 2013.

Carl's book will feature some previously unpublished photographs. One, which will be on the cover, is of Sylvia Plath, taken in April 1954 (just three months after her return to Smith from her suicide attempt and recovery) while Plath was an undergraduate student at Smith College. The photographer was a fellow Lawrence House resident, Judith Snow Denison (Smith 1957, Physics). You can see a small version of the image on Carl's website. The tree in which Plath sits in is in front of Lawrence House.

Interestingly, Denison knew of Plath before matriculating at Smith College, having read the young poets work in Seventeen magazine. (Plath, as you know, published a total of nine stories and poems in Seventeen from August 1950 ("And Summer Will Not Come Again") through April 1953 ("Carnival Nocture"). Her first poem to be printed in the magazine, "Ode to a Bitten Plum," appeared in both the November 1950 and January 1974 issues.) Denison and fellow Smithie Marilyn Martin are among others who provide insight and context into Smith College, Sylvia Plath, and what it was like to be a young woman in the 1950s in Carl's forthcoming biography of Plath.

Carl's book will also publish for the first time a photograph of Frieda and Nicholas Hughes from the mid-1960s after Plath's death. In addition to the images, readers will learn from Carl's research new information about Plath's life.

It is clear that we will have to have clear and open up our reading schedules next winter...


The Plath Diaries said...

I love that new photo of Plath! Thanks for contextualising it, Peter!

Carl Rollyson said...

Thanks, Peter, for calling attention to my book.

Anonymous said...

Gosh. Carls book sounds interesting…
Mr Flur

Anna said...

Hi Peter, look what I just found... http://www.faber.co.uk/catalog/the-bell-jar/9780571268863
I guess, no original cover then. :( Too bad. I'm not sure if I really like it. It's kinda tacky, even though it's supposed to look vintage and classy, for me it's just ugly and I'm really sorry to say this. If they had to make something totally new, why not come up with a cool cover like the one for Faber's 80th birthday or even the 25th anniversary edition!? I think, I prefer almost every other cover to this one. And this makes me very depressed. ;)

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