Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This book constitutes a literary event. Over 400 pages of never-before-published personal writings make this first comprehensive volume of Plath's journals and notes from 1950 to 1962 indispensable reading for both scholars and general readers interested in the poet. Plath's journals were previously published in 1982 and heavily censored by her husband, poet Ted Hughes. But even the diary entries that have been available to the public demand re-reading in the context of fresh materials. In the newly revealed writings, we see an even more complex, despairing psyche struggling to create in the face of powerful demons. Plath's intense bitterness towards her mother emerges in full force, particularly in her notes on her psychoanalysis by Ruth Beuscher in Boston from 1957 to 1959. Plath's writing is by turns raw, obsessive, brilliant and ironic. Her sensitivity about rejections from magazines, her struggle to establish a daily routine of reading and learning, and her ongoing attempts to ward off depression provide reminders of her drive and ambition, despite her feelings of inferiority with respect to her husband. This work constitutes an invaluable primary source as well as a thoroughly engrossing narrative whose omissions are sometimes as important as its inclusions. (There is, for example, surprisingly little on Plath's sudden marriage to Hughes.) Strong print media attention focusing on new revelations will drive early sales of this important work, and it should become a staple backlist title. Editor Kukil is assistant curator of rare books at Smith College, where Plath was an undergraduate and later a lecturer. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Plath's admirers should prepare themselves for another dose of her bitter medicine: Anchor Books has announced the U.S. publication of her "complete, uncensored journals." (This unabridged edition appeared first in England.) Judiciously and unobtrusively edited by curator Kukil, who oversees the Plath Collection at Smith College, the text includes the portions suppressed by Plath's husband, the poet Ted Hughes, now deceased, when he authorized an earlier American edition. About two-thirds of the writings, which cover the last years of Plath's fevered life, have not been available to the public previously. All of the difficulties and contradictions that made Plath a literary icon are contained in these intense, confessional revelations, including her anger, egotism, frustrations, self-destructiveness, and passionate need to express herself. Certain to generate dozens of new academic papers, this is essential for anyone engaged in Plath studies.--Carol A. McAllister, Coll. of William & Mary Lib., Williamsburg, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
To read the deepest dreams and impulses of Sylvia Plath is to fall in love all over again, totally and uncritically.
The publication of these journals is a watershed event. They allow us, for the first
time, to see this dazzlingly, maddeningly fragmented woman as an integrated being...Perhaps the most exciting aspect of a close reading of Plath's journals is the thrill of watching the laboratory of her mind at work, watching her coax her raw materials toward their concentrated final form...Her ars poetica, not just brilliantly executed but brilliantly won despite unbelievable odds, leaps into focus in even more astonishing detail than ever before.
The publication of Plath's unabridged journals provides us with a fuller, more nuanced portrait of her: this "litany of dreams, directives and imperatives," as she once described her diary, gives us a depressed, self-dramatizing woman, but it also gives us the popular, golden coed familiar to readers from her letters to her mother ("Letters Home").
New York Times
Courageous, honest, painful, yearning, and occasionally even funny, the unexpurgated diaries and journals of poet and novelist Plath show a woman struggling to develop her talent against the social constraints of her day.
From the Publisher
From reviews of the British edition:
"A literary event...The book has a raw immediacy that will only add to Plath's iconic reputation." -Harpers & Queens
"The journals are cause for celebration...Given the intensity and rawness of their writing, at moments it feels like walking straight into someone else's dream."-Jacqueline Rose