15 December 2014

Sylvia Plath scholar Sally Bayley's The Private Life of the Diary

The author, Sally Bayley
Teaching and Research Fellow at the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford and a Lecturer in English at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, Dr. Sally Bayley, contributor to Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath's Art of the Visual, co-editor of Representing Sylvia Plath, and author of several other articles on Sylvia Plath, is in the process of seeing her most recent bookThe Private Life of the Diary: from Pepys to Tweets (Unbound Books) through to completion. As you might expect from Sally and a book of diary writing, the book features Sylvia Plath who was a dedicated diary writer and journalist for nearly 20 of her 30 years.

Here are some excerpts for you from the book; specially selected and published here with permission from the author and publisher:

"...Plath, on the other hand, wants to be a good witness of life; she wishes to see and tell things as they are, and so her adolescent journals, kept from the age of fifteen, are filled with carefully composed word-sketches of the world around her: the ‘big, beautiful world as it really is’. Plath’s eye is that of an artist-in-training, and her diary entries often read like a lesson in drawing from John Ruskin..."

"...Plath is a chatty diarist. Her tempo and register are rapid and colloquial; she is excited and at times she babbles. Comparing some of her novel drafts to a form of diary writing, she calls it ‘sentimental’ and ‘vain’, too one-sided. It is true that Plath’s diary-voice is repeatedly preoccupied with one subject: herself and her future and an overwhelming fear of compromise. Too many passages spin around mutually exclusive choices: either to sublimate her egotistical self and lead a life in service to others, or to choose to write, for her own sake..."

"...What Plath claims to lack she in fact shows in abundance: endless self-critical diagnoses that turn in upon themselves. The girl who wants to be God has created an uncanny critical persona, a divine being who reads over her shoulder and delivers a short-sighted reading of her self. Nothing seems very accurate or true. The facts of the matter are all submerged – to use one of Plath’s favourite verbs…"
Stills from Suzie Hanna's The Girl Who Would Be God

Unbound is a new independent crowd-sourced publisher and represents a new model of publishing. They "connect authors and readers. Authors present a pitch, you pledge, and when the goal is reached the book is written. It's really that simple." For those interested, and you really should be as the book sounds fascinating, there is a range of ways for you to acquire Sally's book. For just £10 you get a digital copy of the book; £20 will get you hardback copy to hold, covet and cherish, as well as the e-book edition, access to the "shed", and your name in the back of the book. For £35 you get everything that's come before which includes a signed edition. The £50 option trumps what's come before by the inclusion of a digital copy of Suzie Hanna's The Girl Who Would Be God, which was inspired by Plath's journals and created especially for the 2007 Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium at Oxford University. There are other options too, which really lets you control what you get. An important pledge level involves school workshops. Sally will take diary writing into schools as a means of helping teenagers find a writing and speaking voice that is not necessarily related to social media texting/blurting. See the books webpage for more information.

All links accessed 9 & 12 December 2014.


Anonymous said...

Thank u for this other amazing and surprising post; im so happy to see that lately more other books about Sylvia Plath are released,it's very good that there still are many writers to keep giving Sylvia a voice through their own works and glad because i can buy as a xmas present another good book this about Sylvia thanks to Sally. With all these books about Sylvia thos xmas im treating myself well this year..better than to spend it in hospital and operated ;-) (post poned to february..yes,february,Sylvially speaking is a very bad month) Sally,Peter thank u for giving us the opportunity to peek into some excerpts, to may foretaste the book. Thank u very much for this new good post and im gonna buy the book very soon..so my xmas tree will have 2 books about Sylvia this year :-)
cheers, xxxx
Alina (or Alessandra)

Anonymous said...

errata corrige: "another good book this YEAR * "

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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.