The Bell Jar
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The Bell Jar

By (author) Sylvia Plath

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The Bell Jar is Sylvia Plath's only novel. Renowned for its intensity and outstandingly vivid prose, it broke existing boundaries between fiction and reality and helped to make Plath an enduring feminist icon. It was published under a pseudonym a few weeks before the author's suicide. 'It is a fine novel, as bitter and remorseless as her last poems ...The world in which the events of the novel take place is a world bounded by the Cold War on one side and the sexual war on the other ...This novel is not political nor historical in any narrow sense, but in looking at the madness of the world and the world of madness it forces us to consider the great question posed by all truly realistic fiction: What is reality and how can it be confronted? ...Esther Greenwood's account of her year in the bell jar is as clear and readable as it is witty and disturbing.' New York Times Book Review

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  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 124 x 196 x 18mm | 180g
  • 09 Apr 2001
  • FABER & FABER
  • Faber & Faber Fiction
  • London, England
  • English, Spanish
  • Main
  • 0571081789
  • 9780571081783
  • 1,295

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Author Information

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and studied at Smith College. In 1955 she went to Cambridge University on a Fulbright scholarship, where she met and later married Ted Hughes. She published one collection of poems in her lifetime, The Colossus (1960), and a novel, The Bell Jar (1963); Ariel was published posthumously in 1965. Her Collected Poems, which contains her poetry written from 1956 until her death, was published in 1981 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

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Review text

With the recent UK publication of Plath's diaries, what better time to re-acquaint ourselves with her fiction? Plath's genius, of course, was as a poet but her only novel deserves more serious attention. It is a fictionalized account of her first suicide attempt and her subsequent hospitalization and shock therapy. What marks it out is the cool objectivity of Plath's tone. She never lapses into self-pity, nor does her wit ever fail her. It's a deceptively simple read, yet the book is a savage indictment of the 1950s in America. (Kirkus UK)

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