Tag Archives: Sylvia Plath

Literary Influences (1)

14 Mar

Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath has long been the poster woman for the angsty, troubled poet.  And she was probably the poet that spoke to me the loudest when I was an angsty, troubled teenager.   It was her book of poems, Ariel, that resonated the most with me and I can still recite most lines from Plath’s powerful poem ‘Daddy’ to this day.  On Youtube, there’s a wonderful reading of ‘Daddy’ by Plath herself and I was surprised at how deep and strong her voice was – if possible, it made me love her even more.  This sparked a fascination where I tried desperately to find out everything I possibly could about Plath, reading ‘The Bell Jar’ and ‘The Journals of Sylvia Plath’ among others.  The latter, in particular, was the most revealing and I found myself identifying with her desperate need to feel and experience more in the world.  The way she describes her love for Ted Hughes and their subsequent stormy relationship is riveting and she beautifully depicts the emotional rollercoaster of their subsequent turbulent relationship.  I think I read her journals non-stop in about two days, completely immersing myself in her thoughts and her anxieties.  Plath is one of those poets who will continue to speak on to so many and she has definitely been a huge literary influence in my life.


Recently there was some controversy regarding the front (as pictured) of the 50th edition of ‘The Bell Jar’ which some criticised as looking too much like a chick-lit cover.  While, I’m usually the first to try to avoid judging a book by its cover, I’m definitely not a fan.  I know that the publishers say that such a cover could expand Plath’s readership base but I’m not convinced.  I think that the topics explored in the novel, predominantly depression and feelings of isolation, are too important to be painted frivolously and a simplistic cover would be far more fitting.  Nevertheless, it’s the inside that counts, eh? And the ‘inside’ of ‘The Bell Jar’ is pretty amazing. However, for those who have never read any of Plath before, I would suggest reading some of her poetry first as the imagery she uses in her later poems, especially,  is unbelievably powerful and hard-hitting whereas her fiction tends to be more of a slow-burner.