Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2021

Sylvia Plath's Thesaurus and Kissing

On 19 February 1956, 65 years ago today, Sylvia Plath was in Whitstead at Cambridge writing in her journal. It was a Sunday night. That day she had walked to Grantchester with Christopher Levenson, the skies were gray and the landscape white but visible were browns and greens of the earth. She met John Lythgoe for tea and she read in Macbeth . These details are from her pocket calendar. Her simultaneously kept desk calendar, which tracked her academic doings, indicated she was with Chris from 10 to 1 and John from 2 to 7. It details that she finished reading O'Neill and read Ronsard, Webster, and Euripides in addition to Macbeth.  She wrote one letter that day, to Jon Rosenthal.  Her journal, written that night, details quite a bit more. It started out almost as a letter: "To whom it may concern: Every now and then there comes a time when the neutral and impersonal forces of the world turn and come together in a thunder-crack of judgment." And she went on to say: Today my

Signing Sylvia Plath

Recently I have been looking at Sylvia Plath's signature in response to a query from a friend about her the ways in which she signed her name. It is endlessly fascinating to scrutinize them by reviewing copies I have of letters, book inscriptions, and the like. So I thought I would share some of the signatures in which I noticed interesting differences. These are from letters written between 1955 and 1962. My favorites are, naturally, when the dot of the "i" is about seven leagues away from the rest of the letter. Step off! For what it is worth, seven leagues is just over 24 miles. 

Sylvia Plath's "Character is Fate"

One of the things I did in 2020 was read all the books on my shelves that I had not read. As well, I read some "classics" that I could borrow from the library. A number of these were inspired by Sylvia Plath who was a far better reader of books than I will ever be.  It started right at the turn of the 2019-2020 New Year when I read Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago . Plath read that on her week-long trip from the US to England in December 1959. It took me about month and I read it, in part, from my hometown to Seattle and back! Then, around the time of the shutdown in March, I read Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground.  And I decided that I can and should read only Russian novel per year. Next was W. B. Yeats' "The Unicorn from the Stars", the play that featured some lines that Plath saw as prophecy in November 1962.  I moved onto Lawrence ( The Rainbow , Women in Love , Lady Chatterley's Lover ), Austen's Northanger Abbey and Brontë's Villette . T

Book Updates: Assia Wevill and Sylvia Plath

Today Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick and I are very proud to annouce that we submitted our copyedited text back to LSU Press for our forthcoming book, The Collected Writings of Assia Wevill . More news and updates about the book as it happens. The next step is to have the book typeset and to do the indexing. So, lots of fun to be had. There is no news on the cover yet but I hope to share it here when it is available. Thank you all sincerely for your interest this the volume!! In January, I put the finishing touches on an essay that should be included in the  Bloomsbury Handbook to Sylvia Plath , titled "'They will come asking for our letters': Editing The Letters of Sylvia Plath." It was adapted and enlarged from my keynote talk given at the "Sylvia Plath: Letters, Words and Fragments" conference held at Ulster University, 10-11 November 2017. The various contributors are awaiting their contracts, so more news on this once they have been issued. However, in additi

Sylvia Plath's "Snow Blitz"

Sylvia Plath's "Snow Blitz" is one of the last three prose pieces we know she completed. The other two are "America! America!" (circa 21-22 January 1963) for Punch and "Landscape of Childhood" (a.k.a. "Ocean 1212-W") for the BBC (circa 28 January 1963). All three exhibit a certain degree of creative, or imaginative writing; however, overall in tone, length, and narrative style, they are indisputably non-fiction. "Snow Blitz" spans about a month of time, starting on Boxing Day, 26 December 1962 ("In London, the day after Christmas (Boxing Day), it began to snow...") and ending just about one month later on 26 January 1963 ("Then, just a month after the first snowfall, the weather relaxed."). If the chronology is true, then it was likely written around the same time at "Landscape of Childhood" though in the absence of evidence--say, the missing journals--it is impossible to know in what order they we