The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar

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A vulnerable young girl wins a dream assignment on a big-time New York fashion magazine and finds herself plunged into a nightmare. An autobiographical account of Sylvia Plath's own mental breakdown and suicide attempt, "The Bell Jar" is more than a confessional novel, it is a comic but painful statement of what happens to a woman's aspirations in a society that refuses to take them seriously... a society that expects electroshock to cure the despair of a sensitive, questioning young artist whose search for identity becomes a terrifying descent toward madness. "A fine novel, as bitter and remorseless as her last poems -- the kind of book Salinger's Fanny might have written about herself ten years later, if she had spent those ten years in Hell." -- Robert Scholes, "The New York Times Book Review." "By turns funny, harrowing, crude, ardent and artless. Its most notable quality is an astonishing immediacy, like a series of snapshots taken at high noon." -- "Time." "A special poignance... a special force, a humbling power, because it shows the vulnerability of people of hope and good will." -- "Newsweek."

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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 142.24 x 205.74 x 33.02mm | 430.91g
  • HarperCollins Publishers Inc
  • HarperCollins
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • 25th
  • 0060174900
  • 9780060174903
  • 83,396

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Review quote

"An enchanting book. The author wears her scholarship with grace, and the amazing story she has to tell is recounted with humor and understanding.""-- Atlantic Monthly"

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Back cover copy

The Bell Jar is a classic of American literature, with over two million copies sold in this country. This extraordinary work chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, successful - but slowly going under, and maybe for the last time. Step by careful step, Sylvia Plath takes us with Esther through a painful month in New York as a contest-winning junior editor on a magazine, her increasingly strained relationships with her mother and the boy she dated in college, and eventually, devastatingly, into the madness itself. The reader is drawn into her breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is rare in any novel. It points to the fact that The Bell Jar is a largely autobiographical work about Plath's own summer of 1953, when she was a guest editor at Mademoiselle and went through a breakdown. It reveals so much about the sources of Sylvia Plath's own tragedy that its publication was considered a landmark in literature. This special twenty-fifth anniversary edition includes a new foreword by Frances McCullough, who was the Harper & Row editor for the original edition, about the untold story of The Bell Jar's first American publication.

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