01 September 2013

Sylvia Plath Event: Karen V. Kukil on The Bell Jar at 50

Associate Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections at Smith College and editor The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, Karen V. Kukil, will present a lecture on Sylvia Plath titled The Bell Jar at 50 on Thursday 5 September 2013 at 4 PM in the Browsing Room of the Neilson Library, Smith College. All are welcome. The lecture is free and will certainly enrich one's understanding of the process of creating The Bell Jar and its publication history.

While you are there, you should also check out some of the exhibits ("From Petals to Paper" and "The Bell Jar at 50" and "Sylvia Plath Reads the Wife of Bath") that are closing at the end of the week (8 September), too.


The Plath Diaries said...

Are you going, Peter?
Any chance of a live stream? :)

Peter K Steinberg said...

Hi Maeve,

Thanks for tweeting this blog post & for your comment. I won't be able to make it, though, to Karen's talk, which is a shame.


Anonymous said...

Buona sera, excuse me sir, i have 2 questions about The Bell Jar whichi dont seem to find on google or on any book i have(sorry my english im italian) and so i thought id better ask you who is one of the greatest conosciteur of Sylvia Plath, as person and as writer. My first question is if Joan of the novel is based on a real person in Sylvia's life, and if that Marco (the one who tried to rape her)is really existed and happened in Sylvia's life. I was watching yesterday the film "The Bell Jar" with Marilyn Hasset and Julie Harris and there s a lot of Joan's roleplay,more than in the book,and these 2questions came on my mind. Thank you very much if you are so kind to reply to my curiosity. And thank you also for this marvellous site about "our" marvellous Sylvia. Have a nice sunday, Nina.

Peter K Steinberg said...

Dear Nina,

Hi there. Thank you for your comment. Yes, Joan Gilling in The Bell Jar is largely based on a classmate of Plath's at Smith named Jane Anderson. Anderson was also a patient at McLean Hospital when Sylvia Plath was there. Plath manipulated some of the events to suit the narrative of the novel, but the character was based on a real person.

The character of Marco was also based on a real person called José Antonio La Vias. You can read about him and Plath's experiences with him in Elizabeth Winders Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 which was published earlier this year and in this article by Andrew Wilson, from The Guardian. Winder and Wilson report differing stories about the man and the events. Wilson primarily uses The Bell Jar to reconstruct the actual events and Winder uses interviews with Plath's fellow guest editors.

The Bell Jar film is just horrible; bares very little resemblance to the book: represents therefore to me an injustice to Plath's famous novel.


Anonymous said...

Thank you VERY MUCH for your quick and very exhaustive explanation. I appreciated it. And thank you for suggesting the book which i will surely buy soon on ebay(since it's not sold here in Italy..we only have 3 books by Plath and 2books on/about her here in italian bookstores alas..they hardly know who Sylvia Plath is) and yes, i agree utterly with you, the film was horrible and exaggerated a lot on real facts and i think they depicted Sylvia and her depression in the wrongest way and exaggerating it by showing her like a total insane and crazy woman when actually she was just depressed. And i think also they made the possible to make appear that this Joan was lesbian and that Sylvia was easily attracted to her and to maybe this new experience by letting us see that she easily refused making love with men and be more easily in good (lesbian?)wavelength with women and therefore more in synthony with them because of a more profound affinity female sensibility with each other, to be then easily mistaken with lesbianism which she wasnt. Then we dont know if she was really attracted also to women, we will never know. But who knows.. I think it can be also that her last journal was destroyed or hidden right because there could have be written some uncomfortable truth(for her mother,friends and,most of all,her children). We will never know. Best regards from Italy. Nina

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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 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, Redux." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 232-246.
  • 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: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath. Oxford: Fonthill, 2017.
  • 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)
  • Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (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, Volume 1, 1940-1956. 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. "'A Fetish: Somehow': A Sylvia Plath Bookmark." Court Green 13. 2017.
  • 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. "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. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "The Persistence of Plath." Fine Books & Collections. Autumn 2017: 24-29
  • 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. "Writing Life" [Introduction]. Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning. Stroud, Eng.: Fonthill Media, 2014.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. Sylvia Plath (Great Writers). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.