This study focuses on the way Plath’s work came to enmesh personal anguish with the cultural image repertoire of her time in such a resilient manner that its impact continues to haunt us.
Description: In this engaging and original study Elisabeth Bronfen examines Sylvia Plath’s poetry, her novel The Bell Jar, her shorter fiction and her autobiographical texts in the context of the resilient Plath legend that has grown since her suicide in 1963. Arguing that although we cannot sever our reading of Plath’s work from the critical and biographical writings about her, the study nevertheless offers close readings of texts to explore the various self-fashionings in poetry and prose which this highly ambivalent poet developed. The central theme to which this study returns is Plath’s insistence on a clandestine traumatic knowledge of fallibility and fragility underlying the fiction of success, health and happiness so prevalent in post-World War II. Sometimes expressed as anger and violence, as the celebration of feminine figures of transcendence or as the quiet dissolution of the subject and its world presented in her late Ariel poems, or given voice to in the relentless self-absorption of her autobiographical texts and autobiographical novel, Plath’s struggle with gender and cultural identity is astonishingly timely.
Author: Bronfen, Elisabeth