15 August 2009

Links, reviews etc. - Week ending 15 August 2009

Here are some links and citations that might make for interesting summer weekend reading...

Helen Broderick at the British Library has a new post, "Poetry, Places and birthdays" about processing the Ted Hughes papers. Includes a nice, clickable image.

Erikka Askeland reviews 'Three Women" at the Edinburgh Festival in the Scotsman.

Susan Zelenka's "Why Sylvia Plath’s story pisses me off" reviews Paul Alexander's "Edge" from Studio @ 620 at in The Daily Loaf. Hey, don't forget, Sylvia Plath didn't actually say, "Not that I’m bitter. Not that I’m vengeful. Not that I’m a keeper of slights." Paul Alexander, speaking for Plath (which is problematic) says this. Not that I'm bitter. Not that I'm vengeful. Not that I'm a keeper of slights...

Shelley Blanton-Stroud recommends "Five books for book clubs who love Mad Men's Don and Betty Draper". The third book is Ariel: The Restored Edition. (Don't let the picture, of the 1965 Faber Ariel, fool you...she really does recommend the 2004 Restored Edition.

CMJ reports that a band called the Antlers, based out of Brooklyn, has a song on their forthcoming record (record! how old am I?), Hospise. The third track is titled Sylvia and was influenced and/or inspired by Sylvia Plath.

I recently found three interesting articles that I'd like to bring to your attention. Here are the citations, and short, unjust summaries...

Banita, Georgiana. “‘No More Idols But Me’: Sylvia Plath as Cinema Icon.” In American Studies as Media Studies. (Heidelberg: Universit√§tsverlag Winter, 2008), 119-126.

---A very good summary of Plath in film, particularly a look at how Sylvia (2003) portrays Sylvia Plath.

Enniss, Stephen. “Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and the Myth of Textual Betrayal.” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 101:1. March 2007: 63-71.

---This is an article I had been looking for for sometime, before finally realizing I should check the library stacks at work. Enniss, formerly the Director of Special Collections at the Robert Woodruff Library at Emory and currently the Eric Weinmann Librarian at the Folger Shakespeare Library, argues (very basically) that it might be time to let go of the idea of Ted Hughes and an evil editor of Plath's work. I somewhat agree, this way of looking at Plath and Hughes is hardly beneficial and stinks of 20th century criticism, most of which is fortunately just left behind in the dust.

Van Dyne, Susan. “ ‘Your Story, My Story’: Having the Last Word in Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.” In Last Letters. (Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Cambridge Scholars, 2008), 85-97.

---And then this is the flip side to such an argument, completely. Van Dyne is relentless in her summation of Hughes as controlling and manipulative in this look at Birthday Letters, Ariel, and how Hughes's own attitude towards Plath's poetry changed over the years. Some of this paper comes from her 2008 presentation "'The endless gladitorial event': Who was Hughes as Plath's editor?" at the Sylvia Plath 75th Year Symposium at Smith College.


Melanie Smith said...

Thank you for the list Peter - reading through the links now - you do keep us all well up to date.

Will see if my Uni library has the articles - they all sound interesting, especially 'No more Idols' and the 'Myth of Textual Betrayal'.


panther said...

Thanks, Peter, for these.

I've just read the Susan Zelenka article and have found some things which piss ME off ! When she writes of Hughes that "he was soon having affairs" and "as poet, he made no significant contribution", I'm not sure if she is paraphrasing Paul Alexander's views or expressing her own, but I think she is, either way, way off the mark. There is no hard evidence that he WAS having affairs soon after his marriage to Sylvia ; all we know is that he was very attractive to women and attractive TO women, blah blah, and that Sylvia had "issues" around abandonment caused in large part by the childhood experience of losing her father. As for Hughes not making a significant contribution, I don't know how much of his poetry has appeared in the States but in Britain he was viewed, from his very first collection THE HAWK IN THE RAIN in 1957, as a major poet. And he still is. Not everyone reads him, not everyone admires his work, but suggestions that he was "insignificant" are totally off the mark.

Zelenka's views or Alexander's ? I don't know, but they are ill-founded. We don't have to LIKE the man, or approve of his adultery with Assia Wevill, but I think we would all do well to maintain some objectivity about Hughes as a poet.

Peter K Steinberg said...

I agree, the Zelenka was problematic and I found issues with the same things you did, Panther. I guess she didn't know that The Hawk in the Rain was accepted to be published first by an American publisher, before Faber! I suspect Zelenka sides much with Alexander's views, which he's stuck into the mouth of his "Plath" in "Edge".


Catty said...

"As a poet, he never made any significant contribution as Ted Hughes."

I really don't know whether to laugh or to cry. He was the UK's Poet Laureate. Is that not enough of a contribution? Or is that just how little regard poetry has today?


suki said...

' I suspect Zelenka sides much with Alexander's views, which he's stuck into the mouth of his "Plath" in "Edge"' .

Isn't the trouble that often we are confusing availability once again with fame and the trans Atlantic divide appears to have got in the way? I emailed the reviewer and she is now aware of Hawk in the Rain, as well as a number of other books before Plath died.

So often we only read either Path or Hughes not both.
Catty says " I really don't know whether to laugh or to cry. He was the UK's Poet Laureate. Is that not enough of a contribution? Or is that just how little regard poetry has today"
Alexander's play, much as I appreciate it, does suffer from copyright issues- he wasn't allowed to use work from the estate and so does give a biased picture .. If you aren't familiar with Hughes' work, you wouldn't like Hughes.

Though this site does give Hughes space, it is predominately interested in Plath- you can't expect your readers to all like Hughes or in fact know about him

I think both are great poets of the twentieth century and I think should be read together.

suki said...

Sorry I didn't mean to imply that Alexander wasn't familiar with Hughes' work

panther said...

I realize that Paul Alexander has had, as have so many people before him, trouble with the Estate. I do feel the Estate's reticence tends to contribute to the perception that Hughes himself was a very awkward individual, very defensive and, at the same time, aggressive. And THAT perception in turn enhances the perception that he had something (a lot of things ?) to be defensive about !

At the same time, I can see that the Estate has become very wary over the years of people like Paul Alexander who seem to have little regard for the truth and every desire to distort and sensationalize. Maintaining that Hughes was insignificant as a poet is an illustration of this desire to distort-it's not really difficult to establish that he WAS a significant poet, it's just that Alexander wants to ignore the fact.

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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." 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.
  • 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.
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil (eds.). The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2, 1956-1963. London: Faber, 2018.
  • 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.