The following is a guest blog post by Julia Gordon-Bramer, whom you all know for her work on Sylvia Plath, Qabalah, and the tarot. If you do not know her work, visit Plath Profiles' website and see the last few issues: it is worth your while.
At the 2012 Lawrence Durrell Centenary in London, England, I gave a presentation at Goodenough College on one of Sylvia Plath's most inscrutable poems, "A Secret," and how it corresponds with Durrell's most famous work, The Alexandria Quartet. Through these twelve stanzas of "A Secret," I demonstrate how Plath tours through the highlights (and low-lights) of these four stories--through infidelities, changing wives, blindness, smallpox, dead babies in drawers, and all. Special emphasis is placed upon the first Durrell book of the Quartet, Justine.
Author Lawrence Durrell was a critically-acclaimed poet, artist, and novelist during and after Plath’s time. The first books of The Alexandria Quartet had come out in the late 1950s, and Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and Lawrence Durrell had all shared the same London publisher, Faber and Faber. The three also appeared together in a February 1962 edition of The London Magazine. Additionally, Durrell edited a 1963 edition of New Poems 1963: A PEN Anthology of Contemporary Poetry that included both Plath ("Candles") and Hughes' ("Her Husband" p. 66 and "Wodwo" p. 67. ) work.
As some of you may know, I have spent the last five years reinterpreting the work of Plath as its meanings come clear through tarot and the Qabalah. I affirm that each of Plath’s forty Ariel poems have at least six clear and different meanings within the same set of words, addressing Tarot and Qabalah, Alchemy, Mythology, History and the World, Astrology and Astronomy, and Humanities and the Arts. In addition, I contend that Plath was intentionally mirroring the six-sided Qabalah Tree of Life. I claim that viewing the poems through the lens of a mystical framework, Plath’s work has been mostly misread for fifty years, and that her real genius is only just beginning to be recognized.
This PowerPoint presentation gives a high-level overview of the first five facets of "A Secret," and how they relate to and support the sixth facet of the poem---Plath's Humanities and the Arts tribute to Durrell's The Alexandria Quartet.
Julia Gordon-Bramer is at work on two Plath-related books: The Magician’s Girl, a biography of the alchemical marriage between Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes; and Fixed Stars Govern a Life: Sylvia Plath’s Qabalah Code. Julia Gordon-Bramer’s memoir, Night Times, will be published in 2015 by Walrus Publishing. An award-winning poet and short story writer herself, Gordon-Bramer teaches Humanities and Creative Writing at Lindenwood University, St. Louis.
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.
- 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.
- Elements of Literature, Third Course. Austin, Tex. : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2009. (Photograph used)
- Helle, Anita. "Lessons from the Archive: Sylvia Plath and the Politics of Memory". Feminist Studies 31:3. Fall 2005: 631-652.. (Acknowledged in)
- Helle, Anita Plath. The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. (Photographs used, 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. 2000. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. New York: Anchor Books. (Acknowledged in)
- Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (Photograph used)
- Reiff, Raychel Haugrud. Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Poems (Writers and Their Works). Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, 2008.. (Images provided)
- Plath, Sylvia. Glassklokken. Oslo: De norske Bokklubbene, 2004. (Photograph used on cover)
- 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. "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 106-132.
- Steinberg, Peter K. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
- 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. "Proof of Plath." Fine Books & Collections 9:2. Spring 2011: 11-12.
- Steinberg, Peter K. "A Perfectly Beautiful Time: Sylvia Plath at Camp Helen Storrow." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 149-166.
- Steinberg, Peter K. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
- "Banking on his passion for Plath" by Melissa Davis Haller. UMW Today. Spring 2005.
- "Sylvia Plath's Three Women to be staged in London" by Alison Flood. The Guardian. 3 December 2008.
- "FBI files on Sylvia Plath's father shed new light on poet" by Dalya Alberge. The Guardian. 17 August 2012.
- "There Are Almost No Obituaries for Sylvia Plath" by Ashley Fetters. The Atlantic. 11 February 2013.