28 January 2011

Good Grief!

The distance from Corby, England to Boston,Massachusetts is 3226.58 miles. My copy of Heather Clark’s The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes was mailed from Corby. Thanks to atrocious weather and US postal inspections/security measures, it took 49 days for the copy to reach me.

This distance, 3226.58 miles, is roughly the same distance as from Frontera Comalapa, Chiapas, Mexico to Boston, which Google Maps tells me I can walk in 43 days, 19 hours via the Natchez Trace Parkway.

The moral of the story is if you want something from England, it would be faster to fly over there yourself and buy it... I hope to have a review of this much anticipated book in February...

24 January 2011


Anywhere you read Sylvia Plath is a great place. One of the best new ways to read Sylvia Plath is on an electronic device. I am dedicated ardently to the printed book, but there are some times when electronic texts simply present themselves as a better alternative. How many times are you out at a coffee shop, on the train or bus, perhaps away from your books at party and the need to read Plath or look something up - a line, a phrase - comes upon you?

The Amazon Kindle is one such device that answers these problems. I neither own nor want to own the actual reader, but with the free Smart Phone app and a free Kindle for PC app, too, there is almost no need for the Kindle reader. I highly recommend downloading either the app for your phone or your PC and buying the eBooks that are available in your region or country. With full text search capability, it makes reading and finding a specific passage so much easier.

In the US, you have the ability to purchase the following books by or about Sylvia Plath for use on the Kindle:

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath edited by Karen V. Kukil;
The Cambridge Introduction to Sylvia Plath by Jo Gill;
Lover of Unreason: Assia Wevill, Sylvia Plath's Rival and Ted Hughes' Doomed Love by Eilat Negev and Yehuda Koren;
Sylvia Plath: A Literary Life, Second Edition by Linda Wagner-Martin; and
Rough Magic: A Biography of Sylvia Plath by Paul Alexander.

There is also Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill.

In the UK, you have a different and arguably better selection of titles available:

The Bell Jar;
Ariel: The Restored Edition
The Colossus;
Winter Trees;
Letters Home;
The Cambridge Introduction to Sylvia Plath by Jo Gill; and
Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill.

If you are like me and really, really would be interested in having more titles by Sylvia Plath available on your phones, PC’s, etc. you can let your opinion be known. On each books' page on Amazon.com you should see a link in a box beneath the cover image that reads “Tell the Publisher!” Click the link that reads “I’d like to read this book on Kindle”. Maybe it’ll work and we’ll get more titles! Here are some pages: The Bell Jar, Ariel: The Restored Edition, The Colossus, Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams, The Collected Poems, and Letters Home.

I don not think the Amazon.co.uk site has this option; at least I did not see it on a few titles I searched.

The phone app and PC client sync up, in that if you are reading on your phone it will remember where you were and then when you open it up on your HP laptop (like me) it will drop you where you left off!

19 January 2011

Two New Books to Look Forward to in 2011

I recently found two additional publications we can look forward to this year.

1.) Badia, Janet. Sylvia Plath and the Mythology of Women Readers. Amherst: Univ Of Massachusetts Pr, 2011.

from the UMass Press New Books Spring/Summer 2011 catalog:

Depicted in popular films, television series, novels, poems, and countless media reports, Sylvia Plath’s women readers have become nearly as legendary as Plath herself, in large part because the depictions are seldom kind. If one is to believe the narrative told by literary and popular culture, Plath’s primary audience is a body of young, misguided women who uncritically —even pathologically— consume Plath’s writing with no awareness of how they harm the author’s reputation in the process.

Janet Badia investigates the evolution of this narrative, tracing its origins, exposing the gaps an delisions that have defined it, and identifying it as a bullying mythology whose roots lie in a long history of ungenerous, if not outright misogynistic, rhetoric about women readers that has gathered new energy from the backlash against contemporary feminism.

More than just an exposé of our cultural biases against women readers, Badia’s research also reveals how this mythology has shaped the production, reception, and evaluation of Plath’s body of writing, affecting everything from the Hughes family’s management of Plath’s writings to the direction of Plath scholarship today. Badia discusses a wide range of texts and issues whose signifcance has gone largely unnoticed, including the many book reviews that have been written about Plath’s publications; films and television shows that depict young Plath readers; editorials and fan tributes written about Plath; and Ted and (daughter) Frieda Hughes’s writings about Plath’s estate and audience. An insightful argument about Sylvia Plath, feminism, and the marginalization of women readers.

Literary Studies / Women’s Studies 216 pp., 5 illus. $24.95 paper, ISBN 978-1-55849-896-9
$80.00 unjacketed cloth, ISBN 978-1-55849-895-2
August 2011

2.) Ciuraru, Carmela. Nom De Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms. New York: Harper, 2011.

Nom de Plume “includes a series of brief biographical explorations of the secretive writers behind some of history’s most famous and enduring pseudonyms.” Naturally this has to do with Plath’s pseudonym Victoria Lucas.

On Sale: 6/14/2011
Biography/Literary Criticism
Tr 9780061735264 $24.99 ($26.99)
288 pages; 5 1/2 x 8 1/4

15 January 2011

Additional News Articles on Sylvia Plath's First Suicide Attempt

As I do, I recently checked for more articles on Sylvia Plath's first suicide attempt in August 1953. The timing was right and there were a few additional articles. To quote Blur, "Woohoo!"

The first is from the Miami Daily News from August 26, 1953. The article title is "Student Missing." It appeared on page one and included Plath's photograph.

The second and third articles appeared in the Meriden Record (Connecticut). On the August 26, 1953 edition, on page 10, readers read about how a "Brilliant College Girl Disappears." Very dramatic.

The following day, the Meriden Record ran "Missing Senior Found Under Porch" on the front page. This article is not yet linked. I'm ahead of Google! However, let this not deter you from finding and reading the article for yourself. If you click "Browse this newspaper," then "View All" under 1953, then scroll to August 27, click it and then mouse down to the bottom right of the first page. You'll have it!

These represent articles 174 and 175 that I have found on Plath's first suicide attempt. What is frustrating is that the bibliography section of my article "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath" is now out of date. I suppose it is a happy frustration because this is the nature of bibliography; and finding new articles only goes to further illustrate the pull of this story. There is nothing new in these articles when compared to the others, however at this point in my research of this topic it is most interesting to see how far the news spread. I will continue to post newly found articles when I find them. If any of your are in towns or cities not covered in the aforementioned bibliography and have some spare time to visit your public or college library to investigate whether it has newspapers on microfilm from August 1953 and want to check August 25-28th for articles please let me/us know if you find something. Please. And please send me photocopies/scans. I'd be most curious about New Orleans, Dallas, St. Louis, Detroit, Denver, Atlanta, San Francisco, Portland (Oregon), Seattle, Cleveland, Raleigh, Juneau, to name a few.

You can see a bibliography of articles on Plath's first suicide attempt, and read PDF's of them, over at A celebration, this is.

12 January 2011

Amos reads Plath

Tori Amos was interviewed by Mr. Gee recently on the BBC4's "Rymye and Reason". About mid-way through the segment Amos mentions she turned to the poetry of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton in her development as a song writer. This can be found around 15 minutes, 30 seconds into the program. At about 16 minutes, 45 seconds, Amos reads most of "Lady Lazarus". Thanks to Melanie in Australia for the link. The recording is available on BBC's iPlayer until 18 January 2011.

08 January 2011

The Bell Jar, Annotated

Last summer I found this interesting website called Book Drum. On it, people more or less bring the books to life through annotations. Naturally when I saw The Bell Jar was included, my interest was piqued. This would have been a dream project for me to do but now that its done, and done well by Siân Cleaver, I can move on to something else I suppose.

The Bookmarks section is the meatiest, in which Cleaver explores and illustrates many of the commercial aspects and non-fiction events, people, places, etc. that Plath wove like a tapestry in the novel. The entire site is informative and I hope you enjoy Cleaver's work. My particular favorite is the YouTube video of Art Ford (the inspiration for Lenny Shepherd).

I meant all fall to post this link but with "Last Letter" and other posts and the end of the year, this one kept getting bumped. However, with the below information to present to you too, I am almost glad that it did!

In addition to this website, I recently found a older Barbizon Hotel booklet/brochure... It is eleven pages long and features photographs & captions of the Barbizon from circa 1936, or, about 17 years before Plath was a resident there in June 1953. How much change would have been made to the hotel in that period? It is probable that we will never know, but for what it is worth I imagine these images would have been familiar to Plath.

The hotel was 24 stories and had, at the time of the publication, 700 rooms. The hotel boasted also a recital room, library, indoor swimming pool, restaurant, coffee shop, and louge, among others. Plath was in room 1511.

The first picture here is the lobby.

In the center of the picture is a stairway that leads to a mezzanine. At some point later, the Barbizon lobby was completely remodeled as can be seen in this image.

The second picture here is of the coffee shop Plath places a memorable scene with Hilda, the hat maker.

Before the hotel closed, I had the opportunity to have a coffee in the coffee shop. It was neither tasty nor cheap. Like Esther, I found the coffee "over-stewed" and "so bitter it made my nose curl..."

The third picture is a bedroom.

It appears tiny, but I imagine this would have been the approximate size room Plath had during her residence there (I imagine that to fit 700 rooms in a 24 story building the bedrooms need to be this small). The impression I have always had of the hotel room Plath places Esther Greenwood in in The Bell Jar was much bigger; but I am not certain if familiarity with modern hotel room sizes taints my imagination. Nevertheless, to quote Plath herself, "it is good to have the place in mind."

04 January 2011

You are welcome here

This may or may not be of interest to anyone but me, but I thought I would post some metrics for the calendar year 2010 for this blog and my Plath website.

The country and city stats show just how far reaching interest in Plath is. The keyword stats show how powerful search engines really are.

Visitors to the Sylvia Plath Info Blog came from 132 countries/territories. The top countries were USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Sweden, France, India, Italy and Macedonia. The top cities were London, Sydney, New York, Seattle, Hagersten, Berlin, Chicago, Cambridge (Eng), Atlanta, and Adelaide.

There were 10,358 keywords typed into search engines that brought people to the site. The top keyword searches were: "plath info blog", "sylvia plath blog", "sylvia plath info", "plath blog", "sylvia plath blogspot", "plath flur", "did sylvia plath have an affair with a man named ralph?", "sylvia plath", "plath profiles" and "sylviaplathinfo".

There were some strange keyword searches, too. I include them not to embarrass anyone - because I have no way of knowing who keyed them in - but because I find them fascinating, humorous, etc. Some of these are: "peanut munching crowd", "214 Old Brompton Road", "sylvia stain", "video porno jully silvia", "where to get passports stamped after transatlantic cruise", and "who was the ouija board poetess". Of course there were many more...

For my Plath website, A celebration, this is, visitors came from 151 countries/territories. The top countries were USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Sweden, India, Italy, Germany, Ireland, and France. The top cities were London, New York, Sydney, Chicago, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Dublin, Brisbane, San Francisco, and Saint Leonard.

There were 13,335 keywords typed into search engines that brought people to the site. The top keyword searches were: "sylvia plath biography", "sylvia plath", "a celebration, this is", "sylvia plath biography you're, morning song", "the bell jar", "sylvia plath info", "otto plath biography", "sylvia plath a celebration", "sylviaplath.info", and "stars over the dordogne by sylvia plath analysis".

There were some strange keywords, too... "did sylvia plath teach at florida state university", "1950s life magazine story about poor boy taken in by rich family, wanted to go home", "prety weman by german illustrators", "suze rendell- foto silvia saint", and "why does esther bleed in the bell jar". Of course there were many more...

The strangest keyword search of the year 2010, however, yielded a hit on Plath Profiles: "concealed penis filetype:pdf". Wow.

Anyway, no matter how you find this blog - even if it's an accident - you are welcome here.

01 January 2011

Switching On

Dusting off the keyboard, oiling the finger joints, etc. Creaking back to life.

One of my few resolutions is to finish adding the books Plath read/owned to her library on LibraryThing. Like a bibliography it is never going to be complete for there are undoubtedly unmentioned books that she read. This morning I added about twenty titles, mostly from late 1956 and early 1957 from her time at Newnham College in Cambridge. These are all titles that she listed in Works Cited or Bibliographies for papers; or titles that she marked on reading lists or syllabi. Of the 25 pages of notes I took on Plath's courses and papers and reading lists, etc. there is about a page and a half remaining to be added...

In December, shortly after my last post, I found out that a writer called Carl Rollyson is at work on a new biography of Sylvia Plath provisionally titled American Isis: The Life and Death of Sylvia Plath and expected to be published in February 2013. You can read about it here.
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