Sunday, December 09, 2012

Sylvia Plath and Her Fans

Tin House touches on it, here.

From the story...

A month ago, I touched a lock of Sylvia Plath’s hair. I was at a Plath symposium in Bloomington, Indiana, where the university’s Lilly Library holds a vast store of Plath writings and artifacts. There are minute daily planners she filled to the margins with details of her life as a Fulbright scholar at Cambridge: how she’d spent the day with Ted, reminders to buy books on reading tarot, reports of her headaches and sleeplessness. There are files of childhood ephemera, the homemade paper dolls of Hollywood-style vamps with marabou-fringed dresses, the rhyming birthday cards for her grandparents, the Valentine for her father printed with the words “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.” And there is the hair.

I had to visit the library twice before I was able to see it. The first time, the hair was already engaged, someone else having requested their own moment with it. I should have expected this. The library teemed with our flock of “Plath freaks,” as the symposium organizer lovingly called us, or “Plath people,” as I overheard one librarian describe us with more vexation, as in, “Have those Plath people behaved themselves?” When I came back the next day, the hair was checked out again, but I waited, even though as I did so, I returned to earlier feelings that I shouldn’t see the hair at all.

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