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Showing posts from July, 2007

Sylvia Plath event TONIGHT

For those Plath and Hughes readers in the Murfreesboro/Nashville area: Linebaugh Public Library’s Summer Lecture Series continues tonight with the goal of providing an in-depth exploration of contemporary literature for book discussion groups. Tonight’s set of books up for discussion will be “Birthday Letters” by Ted Hughes and “Ariel” by Sylvia Plath, presented by Deborah Gentry. Linebaugh Library is located at 105 W. Vine St., Murfreesboro. For more information, call (615) 893-4131.

Ingmar Bergman & Sylvia Plath

The passing of Ingmar Bergman is a giant loss to the film industry. Plath based her poem "Three Women" on Bergman's filmd Brink of Life (1958). She saw the film in London in 1961 or 1962, where it was probably called So Close to Life . Here is a film synopsis: "The film takes place in a maternity ward, within the space of twenty-four hours. Cecilia, married and by profession a secretary of the board of education, is three months pregnant when she is brought to the hospital. She has a miscarriage. A later talk with her husband, Anders, confirms her suspicion that he never wanted the child. He is an intellectual who has built up an armour against the world and against emotion. Cecilia, meanwhile, becomes moody and introspective.Also in the ward is Stina, a very happily married and healthy woman, looking forward to the experience of having a child. She is visited by her simple but kind husband, who gives her flowers as a gesture of his love. Only once does she feel fea

Book review: Your own, Sylvia: A verse portrait of Sylvia Plath

This review appeared online at the web site of the Toledo Blade ( ). "YOUR OWN, SYLVIA: A VERSE PORTRAIT OF SYLVIA PLATH. By Stephanie Hemphill. Knopf. $15.99. Ages 16 and up.Sylvia Plath is remembered for a dark, passionate life and for poetry that opens the human heart. Poet Hemphill recounts that life in original poems that illuminate Plath’s journey through the stages of childhood, young woman, wife, and young mother. Each poem is written as a letter from someone close to Sylvia or in the style of a Plath poem. Included are biographical footnotes in a non-intrusive style. An absorbing life story to savor. " I have not heard much about this book, published by Knopf in March 2007. Has anyone out there read it?

Sylvia Plath's thesis and Plath as subject

Sylvia Plath wrote her senior thesis on Dostoyevsky called The magic mirror: A study of the double in two of Dostoevsky's novels . It was printed in a limited edition of 226 numbered copies by Embers Handpress, Rhiwargor, Llanwddyn, Powys, in 1989. Smith College holds the original as part of their Sylvia Plath Collection. Indiana University also holds some related materials including notes and note cards for the work. Sylvia Plath has also been the subject of well over a hundred theses and dissertations. I have been working on compiling a bibliography of these, mostly dissertations through a source I have via my graduate program. I will post it to this blog in the next few days I hope. Some of these works have gone on to be published, for example Judith Kroll's brilliant Chapters in a mythology: The poetry of Sylvia Plath. The disseration was titled Chapters in a mythology: The poetic vision of Sylvia Plath . The book was published in 1976 by Harper & Row with the slightl

Sylvia Plath collections: Sylvia Plath Collection, Smith College

The Mortimer Rare Book Room at Smith College holds the impressive, important Sylvia Plath Collection, 1940-1981. From the abstract, "The collection contains approximately 4,000 pages of Plath's manuscripts and typescripts. This includes a group of 67 poems in successive draft that are part of the Ariel poems. Also drafts of early poems, some with notes by Alfred Young Fisher. There are typescripts of The Bell Jar . Also drafts of articles, broadcasts, reviews and short stories. There are her journals, drawings and correspondence. Correspondence includes letters to and/or from Al Alvarez, Dorothy Schober Benotti, Ruth Barnhouse, Ruth Fainlight, Ann Davidow Goodman Hayes, Elinor Friedman Klein, Philip Emerald McCurdy, Enid Epstein Mark, James Michie, Marianne Moore, Howard Moss, Hans-Joachim Neupert, Aurelia Schober Plath, Otto Emil Plath, Olive Higgins Prouty, G. Jon Rosenthal, Stevie Smith, Marcia Brown Stern, and other friends, publishers and editors. Also memorabilia from c

Book Reivew: Sylvia Plath, Updated Edition (ed. Harold Bloom)

The eleven essays in Sylvia Plath, Updated Edition (Bloom's Modern Critical Views) are all reprints from monographs or journals. Each is an excellent contribution to Plath scholarship. Bloom's continued hypocrisy is unforgivable, however. In fact, he re-prints his "Introduction" to his first edition, and in an author's note adds that his revulsion to Plath is ever-growing. I appreciate the fact that Bloom edited the series which featured my book about Plath, but he really should not put his name on a book if he cannot stomach the subject. The advantage of a book like this is in the wide range of perspective each author gives and, I suppose, in the selection of the pieces by the series editor. Absent are strong essays by Tracy Brain and Lynda K. Bundzten, to name just two of the many Plath scholars I both respect and admire. Below are the chapters and the work where they previously appeared. 1. "The Bell Jar" by Caroline King Barnard Hall (Previ

Julia Stiles and Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar

The following article appeared today on "The Bell Jar" tolls for Julia Stiles by Shawn Adler She’s trapsed the globe with super-spy Jason Bourne, but Julia Stiles’ greatest journey is the one she’ll soon be making inside her own head, the 26-year-old told MTV News, as she gears up to play Esther Greenwood in the film adaptation of the classic Slyvia Plath novel “The Bell Jar.” Sometimes described by readers as a “female ‘Catcher in the Rye,’” “The Bell Jar” follows Greenwood as she experiences massive, clinical melancholia, through commitment to a mental hospital, electroshock therapy, and several suicide attempts. Ask most casual students of English literature and they’ll tell you “The Bell Jar” is one thing above all – effing depressing. “I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s depressing at all. It is ABOUT depression,” Stiles argued. “But I think that Sylvia Plath writes with such awesome, beautiful, vivid imagery that is so perfect for film, that it’s kind

Sylvia Plath's audited poetry course

The Howard Gottlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University is has impressive holdings. Sylvia Plath audited Robert Lowell’s poetry course in the winter/spring semester of 1959 and it was there that she met Anne Sexton. Sexton, Plath and others spent time at the bar at the Ritz (pictured to the right and now called The Taj) on Arlington Street in Boston after class and discussed poetry, suicide, and other tantalizing subjects I am sure. One day in 2005, I had the occasion to visit the archives and looking for any information on this course. They produced for me the General Catalogue, 1958-1959, Volume XLVII, Number 23. On page 140, in the section on the College of Liberal Arts (at 725 Commonwealth Avenue), is the description for course EN 305,306 “Writing of Poetry” taught by Robert Lowell. The course description reads, “Versification. Analysis of contemporary poetic techniques. Manuscripts read and discussed in class.” The College of Liberal Arts had classrooms at 705 and 725 Co

Sylvia Plath collections: Olwyn Hughes papers, 1951-1997

Emory University holds the Olwyn Hughes papers, 1951-1997. The call number is Manuscript Collection No. 980 and is contained in two boxes. The second box contains photocopies of everything held in the first box. The abstract for the collection reads, "Letters from Ted Hughes to his sister, Olwyn Hughes, from 1951 to 1997, and to his parents from 1954 to 1960. The topics include discussions of his activities during his undergraduate years, his life with Sylvia Plath and their children Frieda and Nicholas, and his career including teaching and writing." Letters from Plath can be found in Box 1, Folders 9, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, and 23. A photograph of Plath can be found in Box 1, Folder 39. An interesting item is in folder 42; which is a confirmation for passage on the Cunard Steamship Queen Elizabeth . In all, the collection looks very interesting. If any readers out there have worked with these materials, please share your experience. The finding aid to the Olwyn Hughes pape

Sylvia Plath and Google Books/Google Scholar

Google Books and Google Scholar are both powerful resources for finding information on anything. Using both, readers may find references to Sylvia Plath in books and articles that may help them with their own research. It can also be a way to obtain full or partial-text quotations from your favorite Plath books.

Sylvia Plath lecture event, 31 July, 2007

Dr. Deborah Gentry will give a lecture entitled " The Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes and Ariel by Sylvia Plath" on 31 July, 2007, at the Linebaugh Public Library at 105 W. Vine St., Murfreesboro. The library telephone number is (615) 893-4131, should anyone require more information. Dr. Gentry is Associate Professor at Middle Tennessee State University and will have her book, The Art of Dying: Suicide in the Works of Kate Chopin and Sylvia Plath , published next year.

Sylvia Plath's "Stone Boy With Dolphin"

Sylvia Plath's long short story "Stone Boy With Dolphin", written around 1957/58, is considered to be a novel-fragment. The Lilly Library, Mortimer Rare Book Room, and Emory University each hold manuscript versions of this story. Indiana also holds a short story called "The Bronze Boy" (mss. II, Box 7, f.8; Plath mss. II, in SP to ASP, Oct. 8, 1951) but I am unsure if this is a related story. The story, set in Cambridge, fictionalizes her meeting with Ted Hughes and draws heavily on real events. Additionally, Plath captured some scenes directly from her journals. The following is from her journal, dated 19 February, 1956, "I went to the bronze boy whom I love, partly because no one really cares for him, and brushed a clot of snow from his delicate smiling face. He stoodthere in the moonlight, dark, with snow etching his limbs in white, in the semicircle Below is the text from the story: "Ever since the start of Lent term she had taken to brushing snow

Sylvia Plath collections: Artwork, 1941-1951, at the Lilly Library

The Lilly Library at Indiana University holds a large collection of Sylvia Plath papers. Included in this collection are 139 items of artwork by Plath. This collection "consists of drawings, paintings, pastel works and college art projects by poet Sylvia Plath." They are arranged by size and by medium. The artwork was a gift of Dorothy Young Burns in 1988. Many of these items, in addition to some materials from the Mortimer Rare Book Room, were on display in the Eye Rhymes: Visual Art and Manuscripts of Sylvia Plath exhibit during the 2002 Sylvia Plath 70th Year Symposium held at Indiana University.

Sylvia Plath's addresses

Sylvia Plath lived in a number of places throughout her short life. Below is a fairly comprehensive list of seventeen residences that Plath lived, with approximate dates in parentheses. Seventeen different addresses, in only 30 plus years! Some addresses are not listed here; for example Plath attended summer camps throughout the 1940s in New Hampshire (Camp Weetamoe), Massachusetts (Camp Helen Storrow), and a sailing camp on Martha's Vineyard. 24 Prince Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 (1932-1935) 92 Johnson Avenue, Winthrop, MA 02152 (1935-1942) 892 Shirley Street, Winthrop, MA 02152 (1940 - primarily during Otto Plath's illness) 26 Elmwood Road, Wellesley Hills, MA 02481 (1942-1950) Haven House, Elm Street, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063 (1950-1952) Lawrence House, Green Street, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063 (1952-1953; 1954-1955) Room 1511, The Barbizon Hotel, 140 East 63rd Street, New York City, NY 10021 (June 1953) North Belknap at McLean Hospital, 115

Play about Sylvia Plath, "Edge," gets a revival

I saw this during it's original run in New York and was not impressed. It's Alexander's Rough Magic overdosed on steroids. Theater News Jul 12, 2007, New York By: Brian Scott Lipton Angelica Torn in "Edge" Angelica Torn will reprise her acclaimed performance as poet Sylvia Plath in Paul Alexander's solo play Edge , September 4-October 8 at the ArcLight Theater. The show will open officially on September 9. The play covers Plath's life from her early years in Boston to her infamous suicide attempt in 1953 to her troubled marriage to the poet Ted Hughes. Plath is best known as the author of The Bell Jar. The show was previously seen in New York in 2003 at the DR2 Theatre. Torn will tour with the play, including stops in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Zealand, and Australia in 2008. Torn is the daughter of Rip Torn and the late Geraldine Page. She starred on Broadway in Side Man and her many other stage credits include Vivat Vivat Regina, Death and the M

Sylvia Plath's rejected 'Ariel' titles

Sylvia Plath is known for her 'Ariel' poems, poems written mostly throughout the spring and fall of 1962. When she died, she left a more or less completed manuscript under the title of Ariel . I say more or less as Plath was a notorious reviser and re-arranger of her manuscripts. The Mortimer Rare Book Room at Smith College holds the Ariel poems. Each poem and its drafts is housed in maroon clamshell boxes, custom-made for the archive. They are a must see for any research visitor to the special collection. Many of the poems are written on the verso of manuscript pages of The Bell Jar . In some instances, it is as though the poems are in conversation with the prose. Occasionally rejected titles reappear later in Plath's work; for example, the poem "Words heard, by accident, over the phone", written on 11 July 1962, has the rejected title of "Words". In the winter of 1963, just days from her suicide, Plath titled another poem "Words". The s

Sylvia Plath collections: The St. Martin's Press Archives, 1952-1996, Brown University

The Brown University Library holds the St. Martin’s Press Archive, 1952-1996. The St. Martin's Press archives includes correspondence and related materials from a wide variety of 20th century authors, including Edward Abbey, Isaac Asimov, James Herriot, Robert Travers, Randy Shilts, Sean O'Casey, R. Buckminster Fuller, M. M. Kaye, Jerzy Kozinski, Henry Roth, and James Baldwin. In addition, papers regarding the entire spectrum of St. Martin's catalog of biographies, histories, science, literary essays, and fiction, published throughout the press's various divisions - trade, mass market, scholarly and reference, and college textbooks - are available. In the collection are some materials related to Linda Wagner-Martin’s biography of Plath. The papers cover the period from 1983-1991. These materials are currently restricted until October 2007. St. Martin’s Press began sending their records to Brown in 1997. Materials older than 10 years are unrestricted, unless otherwise no

Sylvia Plath collections: The Pierpont Morgan Library (New York City)

The Literary and Historical Manuscripts department at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City has an impressive collection of Sylvia Plath books. Tucked in this collection is a true Plath gem. The title of the collection is “Autograph transcript of 40 juvenile poems”. Purchased in 1982, the call number is Bound American Literature, the accession number is MA 3775. The record ID is 127550. Plath wrote these poems from 1940-1946, and transcribed about 1945-46. From the description, there appear to be two volumes, one of 24 p. and another of 17 p. The Morgan houses the poems in a blue cloth box. A note on the collection reads, “In a notebook with brown paper covers and with margins decorated with drawings in color in ink and crayon. Together with early transcripts of 29 poems, mostly in pencil and mostly notebook duplicates. Presumably 27 of the poems are available in no other text than the notebook transcripts.” I would like to thank Janet McCann at the Texas A & M Univers

Sylvia Plath collections: Alfred A Knopf Inc Records, 1873-1996

The impressive Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRHRC) at the University of Texas at Austin holds the Alfred A. Knopf Inc Records, 1873-1996. (You may remember from an earlier posting that the HRHRC also holds Anne Sexton's papers.) Knopf published The Colossus and other poems in 1962, so when it came time for Plath to try to get The Bell Jar published in the United States, she sent the manuscript along to Knopf. Knopf rejected it, unfortunately. In "Series I. General / Historical Correspondence, 1922-71, bulk 1946-66", they hold in box 362, folder 2, correspondence with Plath from 1961-1962, approximately the time period for both the publication of The Colossus , as well as her attempt to secure them as publisher for her novel. The collection does hold their rejection letter to Plath. In "Series VII. Other Department Files, 1916-96, bulk 1943-68 , A. Publicity Department, 1916-96, bulk 1943-96, 1. Publicity Files, 1916-67, bulk 1943-58", they hold in