Review by Booklist Review
Plath kept a journal for most of her sadly shortened life, recording every nuance of feeling and thought with wit, passion, and despair, singlemindedly pursuing literary mastery. Her late husband, the poet Ted Hughes, began preparing Plath's journals, excepting those he destroyed after her suicide, for unexpurgated publication, a project now brought to fruition in a volume that enables readers to immerse themselves in Plath's gorgeous, ever-turbulent inner sea. The first journal begins in 1950, when Plath leaves home to attend Smith College, and the last covers her final months in England, and what is most striking about Plath's torrential accounting of herself is the naturalness with which she writes pointillistic yet animated descriptions of both exterior and interior worlds, describing her sensuality, extreme sensitivity, and increasing hopelessness. In early entries, Plath laments her unfulfilled sexual desire yet worries, presciently, that love, marriage, and children would interfere with her art. Life did prove too much for her, but what astonishing power coursed through her, and how much life she projected onto the page, into the future. Donna Seaman
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
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.DCarol A. McAllister, Coll. of William & Mary Lib., Williamsburg, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
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. Don't look for fresh scandal here; the few scandalous moments were reported earlier this year with the publication of the British edition, and (as most Plath readers know) the journals preceding her suicide were destroyed. Look instead for the slow, day-by-day maturing of a romantic, somewhat silly girl into a sensitive, hard-working, valiant woman, who coped frequently with bouts of depression, bemoaned that she was "doomed" to be a woman, and battled the "shoulds" and "musts" that were the heritage of her era and her gender. Edited by Kukil, the Smith College curator responsible for the Sylvia Plath Collection, this edition begins as Plath is about to enter Smith in 1950 and continues to the end of 1959. There are no entries for her stay in a psychiatric institution, novelized in The Bell Jar, or for her senior year at Smith. There are a few fragments as late as 1962, describing the birth of her second child at home. These so-called fragments, gathered in 15 appendices, contain some lengthy notes of trips, a hospital stay, drawings, and vignettes of neighbors and friends. Among the new material is the occasionally tedious diary of a year teaching at her alma mater (including some acid comments about colleagues), plus notes on her 1959 sessions with a therapist (where she describes herself as "thrilled" to be given permission "to hate one's mother"). Plath loved cooking and clothes, and there are details of meals and her wardrobe (as well as romances and sexual encounters) throughout, along with avowals of her love and admiration for her husband, Ted Hughes. Extensive notes identify the people mentioned in the journals. Inspiring and informative. (16 pp. b&w photos, not seen) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.