because it sounds like some vague literary term, or a pernicious disease

Even Amidst Fierce Flames The Golden Lotus Can Be Planted

with one comment

I have a copy of Sylvia Plath’s first and only novel The Bell Jar that I have been carrying around with me throughout my various moves since grade eleven. The copy of which I speak is a printing that was issued in the 1970’s and has a very simple, green concentric circle design and black and white block lettering. I should also mention that I totally pilfered this copy from my grade eleven English class book stacks.

At the time I didn’t think my of actions as stealing so much as liberating this book from its endlessly dreary shelf-life, sitting on the stacks passed over for brighter, newer paperback books. I devoured the Bell Jar, over and over again. There was quite literally a period of my life that I would read it from start to finish and then start all over again. I read it in this fashion to my count eight times, it was likely more, before I moved onto something else. Undoubtedly however, The Bell Jar is one of the novels that defined the utter cliché of my teenaged ennui and shaped my earliest attempts to be “a writer.” As we know now however, I am not “a writer”, and it’s all Marcel Proust’s fault.

I read The Bell Jar frequently even today, often in the bath, coining my phrase “I’m reading Plath in the bath”, which is ironic with the whole suicide thing. Not to worry though, Sylvia didn’t do herself in by opening her veins in a warm bath, she did it by sticking her head in the oven a month after the first publication of her only novel. The stigma attached to The Bell Jar Aside, it’s actually a funny, personal and rather uplifting tale. At least to me.

Semi-autobiographical, The Bell Jar follows the protagonist Esther Greenwood as she works through her internship at a woman’s magazine, return to her mother’s house, attempted suicide, hospitalization and eventual recovery with some flashbacks recalling her lame boyfriend Buddy and his weird underwear. I expect eventually, since my blog here has become a virtual graveyard for the writers themselves I will write more in another entry about Plath herself, her suicide and the destruction of her last journal after her death by Ted Hughes, but that requires a trip to the library and some pant-free research.


Written by Lindsey

June 9, 2010 at 9:21 am

One Response

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  1. I think everyone considers liberating something from their school library at one point – mine wasn’t anything nearly as significant as The Bell Jar, though (I yoinked a picture of Death from the back of The Sandman: World’s End because I had a crush on Death and because I figured nobody would be sophisticated enough to appreciate the book – in retrospect, the more sophisticated person might have just left the book on the shelf unmolested by pseudogoth teenaged angst).


    June 9, 2010 at 12:25 pm

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