08 April 2016

Sylvia Plath in Venice

In December 2015, I did some fairly extensive, intensive work with the photographs of Sylvia Plath and Gordon Lameyer from their time together as a couple and as friends. Lameyer took a series of full color images of Plath from circa spring 1953 to April 1956 which are now on slides and printed photographs held by the Lilly. Plath is depicted from Northampton to Ipswich, atop Mount Monadnock to the beaches at Cape Cod, from Newport, Rhode Island to Paris and Venice and Rome. And more. This work included studying the photographs carefully and establishing the date on which they were taken using a variety of sources to support the conclusions I was reaching and include her journals, letters, calendars, and more.

Plath and Lameyer traveled from Paris, France to Munich, Germany on Friday 6 April 1956. Then from Munich, Germany, to Venice, Italy on Saturday 7 April 1956. They had just the one full day, Sunday, 8 April 1956, in the enchantingly aquatic city and it seems they made the most of it. They had to, for on Monday 9 April 1956 they traveled to Rome where they largely went their separate ways. Plath flew from Lameyer and Rome to London and Ted Hughes on the famous Friday, 13 April 1956.

Enamored with the Italian slides, I wanted to try to photo match the images of Plath and Lameyer to see if I could identify the exact location on one of the 177 canals where the photographs were taken. I turned to Google and was pleased and amazed to use "Street View" on the Grand Canal and other canals of Venice. (Really, for Venice, it should be "Canal View".) Which should not have been that surprising considering the waterways are the primary "streets" of this wonderful city. So, I started with the Grand Canal, grandly hoping it would be that easy. It was! I lucked out and only had to search the Grand Canal: one and done.

The first image, below, shows Plath alone in the gondola on the Grand Canal traveling from the direction of the Ponte di Rialto towards the Piazza San Marco. The location is near the Calle del Traghetto Vecchio. Beneath that image is a Google Canal View of the section of Venice in the background. The angle requires some consideration.

The second image, below, shows Plath and Lameyer on a gondola a little further up (or down?) the Grand Canal. The distance is roughly 150 to 200 meters. They are at, approximately, the S Angelo stop for the Hotel Palazzo Sant'Angelo. Beneath that image is a Google Canal View of the section of Venice in the background. The angle requires some consideration.

The third photograph of Plath in Venice, not included here but available at the Lilly Library, is from atop the beautiful Torre dell'Orologio in Piazza San Marco. Plath stands between the bell and a bell ringer. The distinctive brick orange column and white loggia of the Campanile di San Marco looms in the background. Also visible is one of the three tall bronze standards. Here are two photographs of the Torre dell'Orologio my wife took on our honeymoon.

Images from Lameyer mss, Courtesy Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. My deepest thanks to Cherry, Zach, Jody, and Sarah for their help.

Images of the Torre dell'Orologio, Venice, Courtesy of my wife, whom I thank for marrying me!

All links accessed 5 December 2015 and 27 March 2016.


Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

What fun! Thank you.

rdalpay said...

Wonderful to see some new pictures. Thank you.

J&C said...

It's so amazing to see these photos of SP. Thank you very much, Peter!

Peter K Steinberg said...

Dear Julia, rdalpay & J&C,

Hi there. You're most welcome, all. Thank you all for commenting.


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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. 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.