Surviving Literary Suicide

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Berman's boyhood dream of being a successful oncologist was thwarted by mediocre grades in college science courses, but he has been more fortunate in his search for an understanding of another pathology: suicide. In graduate classes that combined Freudian and reader-response examinations of works by Woolf, Hemingway, Plath, Sexton, and others that depicted or even seemed to celebrate suicide, Berman's students tested Plato's model of "infection"--i.e., poetry gives people bad ideas--vs. Aristotle's of "immunity"--i.e., plays are valuable for purging people of bad emotions. Ultimately, the class favored the latter viewpoint, concluding that studying suicide rids one of self-destructive thoughts. The author of Diaries to an English Professor (Univ. of Massachusetts, 1994) and other books that break down the artificial barrier between criticism and pedagogy, Berman (English, Univ. of Albany) here offers a circuitous approach, one that is both emotionally charged and intellectually rigorous, to the undeniable connections between how we read and who we are. At a time when professors often treat literature as alien terrain, Berman and his students use new methods to confirm an old truth: the more one knows about books, the better equipped one is for life, and vice versa.--David Kirby, Florida State Univ., Tallahassee Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558492110
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
  • Publication date: 6/7/1999
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Soul Mates and Silent Suffering 1
1 English 745: Literary Suicide 1994 17
2 Romanticizing Suicide in Kate Chopin's Awakening 46
3 Virginia Woolf and the "Embrace of Death" 67
4 Ernest Hemingway's Suicideophobia 101
5 Sylvia Plath and the Charge of Art 137
6 Anne Sexton and the Poetics of Suicide 176
7 William Styron and the Landscape of Depression 210
8 Conclusion: Returning from the Dead 247
Appendix "Elegy for a Suicide: Writing and a Suicide Survivor" 263
Works Cited 277
Index 286
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