Sunday, February 10, 2013

Reflections of Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar was published less than a month before Sylvia Plath killed herself on 11 February 1963. To mark the 50th anniversary of her death, writers and poets reflect on what her work means to them in the Guardian.

From the piece...

Lena Dunham

...I wonder if Plath would have been saved had she been born in a different time: in a time when psycho-pharmacologists are no more shameful to visit than hairdressers and women write celebrated personal essays about being bad mothers and cutters and are reclaiming the word slut. Would she have been a riot grrrl, embracing an angry feminist aesthetic? Addicted to Xanax? A blogger for Slate? Would she, like me, have found a cosy coffeehouse environment on the internet, a way to connect with people who understood her aesthetic and validated her experience? Would she have been less dependent on the approval of viewers and critics and more aware of the positive effect her book was having on splintered psyches and girls with short bangs everywhere? Or would that kind of connectedness and access to unmitigated and misspelled negativity have driven her even madder?
I asked my Twitter followers, many of them women with histories of angst and an ability to speak eloquently and even comically about it, to spare 140 characters on the topic of The Bell Jar and what it meant to them.

"All the pages fell out of my copy, the book literally lost hope & gave up on itself," said one. "This irony is not wasted on me."

"I read it right before senior year & loved it so much I thought I was going crazy too. Laid in bed for three days just to be sure."

My favorite response was a simple "it made me feel less alone." Because that's how it made me feel, too. And that's what I think art is for. Sylvia was just like us. Only she didn't have The Bell Jar.

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