Despite the years that passed between Bloch’s death and Michaels’s working and reworking of the material, Sylvia feels unresolved. The narrator doesn’t seem to grasp his own role in his very troubled young wife’s despair, and seems unable to understand how things he did or didn’t do might have affected her. He can only watch her descent and grieve. Sylvia is told plainly — there are no pyrotechnics, few literary allusions, no dead elder relatives. With this suicide, Michaels had a tragedy as intractable as his grandparents’, as flabbergasting, and all his own. He’d been given his obsession early, in the form of love, and like Ahab he chased it all his life.
The New York Times