Wednesday, September 5, 2012

When I Read...The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Book I read: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

When I read it: October of 2010, when I was 16.

Reason: I was doing the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge at the time (which I've put on hold right now because of other books I want to read first), and this looked like an interesting one on the list.

Review:  When Angelyn asked me to do a book review on The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, I was actually pretty excited about the idea even though I hadn't read it in nearly two years.  It stirred up some nostalgic/hurtful feelings in me from the time that I read it, which actually helped me to remember why I liked the book at the time and all that it examined.  
  The Bell Jar is a semi-autobiographical novel by Sylvia Plath, published under her pseudonym "Victoria Lucas" at the time.  The story is about Esther Greenwood, a girl trying to find her place in the world as a woman.  It follows her life, including her downward spiral into depression and ultimately her suicide attempt.  Identity, feeling oppressed and used by men, the fears of becoming a housewife and losing one's self are some major themes.  Often call a roman à clef, the book echoes some similar events that happened in Plath's life.  

  The book was started in 1961 after Plath had published her book of poems, The Colossus.  The novel disappointed her publisher Harper and Row, but was eventually published in the UK in 1963.  Plath committed suicide a month after its publication.  Working titles for the book included  Diary of a Suicide and The Girl in the Mirror.

  I haven't read the book, as I've stated, in a little over 2 years, so I don't remember all the details about it.  I do know that I really enjoyed it and this book was written so interestingly  that I became a big fan of Sylvia Plath, even to the point that I got her Unabridged Journals for my birthday last year.  The book is pretty dark and kind of disturbing sometimes.  It has some underlying sexual tones as well, especially at one point when she has slept with a boy and begins bleeding excessively.  Shock treatments are also examined in the novel, and these descriptions could get a little rough at time.  

  I would recommend this book to anyone 15 and up only because of some of the darker themes.  If you don't like any sort of semi-depressing books, I would avoid this one.  But if this sort of thing is intriguing to you, definitely give it a shot.  

“...because wherever I sat—on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok—I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.” - The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.