Monday, January 14, 2013

50 Years Ago Today: Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar was published

First posted 6/8/2020; updated 7/6/2020.

The Bell Jar

Sylvia Plath

First Publication: January 14, 1963

Category: semi-autobiographical novel

Sales: ?

Accolades (click on badges to see full lists):

About the Book:

The Bell Jar was the only novel written by American writer and poet Sylvia Plath. It wasn’t published under her own name until 1967. It was originally published under the pseudonym ‘Victoria Lucas’ in 1963. WK It didn’t see publication in the United States until 1971, “in accordance with the wishes of both Plath's husband, Ted Hughes, and her mother.” WK It has since “been translated into nearly a dozen languages. The novel, though dark, is often read in high school English classes.” WK

“The novel is semi-autobiographical, with the names of places and people changed. The book is often regarded as a roman à clef because the protagonist’s descent into mental illness parallels Plath’s own experiences with what may have been clinical depression or bipolar II disorder.” WK She committed suicide a month after the book’s first publication in the UK.

The book is a “shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity.” BN The story “chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under – maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that Esther’s insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.” AZ

Resources and Related Links:

In July 2018, I became the organizer of the Classic Novels Book Club. Check out the Book Club tab here or Meetup for more information. This is our July 2020 book.

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