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Sylvia Plath by Connie Ann Kirk
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Connie Ann Kirk's 2004, Sylvia Plath: A Biography, was recently reissued by Prometheus Books. Unlike it's first appearance, this title is available at bookstores, making it one of the few introductory biographies available to a more commercial market (the 2004 Greenwood biography series edition being primarily a 'library' book).

On the back of the book, in big letters is "The blood jet is poetry and there is no stopping it." Those who know "Kindness" quite well will notice the addition of "and", which is not in the poem. This is sloppy. The blurb on the back of the book claims that by the time Plath died, she left behind a "popular novel, The Bell Jar", but we know this wasn't the case.

There is an over reliance on other biographies, and throughout the work, Plath and Hughes and the other players are referred to by their first names, as "Sylvia," "Ted," etc. Addressing Plath and the others in the familiar actually made it more difficult to read. The tone throughout was off, and I kept thinking I was reading something by Marcia Brown Stern, Jillian Becker or Elizabeth Sigmund, i.e. people that knew Plath and can get away with addressing the subject as such. There are also contradictions between the chronology in the front of the book and in the text. Etc. etc.

While the main facts are there, several errors from the first edition were not corrected in this new edition, frustrating this reviewer. Rather than list everything as I did with the errors contained in Bowman and Hurdle, I'll spare you the bitchy details of what's wrong with this book. When an author such as Kirk, a serial biographer, approaches a life like Sylvia Plath's, it is almost excusable to make mistakes. But, it is also quite inexcusable. The biographer must be painstakingly dedicated to getting the facts of their subject correct. Especially in an introductory work where their words may be responsible for intriguing and education a future fan or scholar. While this isn't the greatest introduction to Plath (and there are betters one's out there; and yes, as you might imagine, naturally my bias leans towards my own little biography of Plath), it is better than some of the fuller length treatments of Plath's life. The book itself is a handsome production. ( )
  pksteinberg | Sep 11, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0313332142, Hardcover)

The poet Sylvia Plath has been a cultural icon since 1963 when she took her own life on a cold winter morning at the age of 30. This up-to-date biography explores the nature and sources of the mythology that has surrounded the poet's life by presenting a balanced account of her own life and the many significant people and events that influenced her.

This outstanding biography presents the facts of Plath's life as they are known in the 21st century. The research for this biography uitilizes the latest updated scholarship including new information released in the unabridged journals published in 2000 and the newly accessible Ted Hughes archives. In addition to this primary research, conducted in part at Smith College, Kirk also provides new insights and perspectives from original interview material with a Plath contemporary who personally knew her. Whether read for a school assignment or for personal interest, this highly readable biography offers an accessible alternative to the density of Plath scholarship. Readers who wish to pursue the topic further will find an extensive bibliography of biographical and critical sources, a full list of Plath's writings, an appendix of her own literary holdings, and another appendix of her family tree.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:51 -0400)

Presents a biography of twentieth-century American poet Sylvia Plath, based in part on information from journals and archives released since 2000, as well as interviews with a personal acquaintance.

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