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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
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The Bell Jar (1963)

by Sylvia Plath

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
22,907407102 (3.97)520
Beautiful and gifted, with a bright future, Esther Greenwood descends into depression, suicidal thoughts, and madness while interning at a New York City magazine.
1960s (25)
To Read (14)
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» See also 520 mentions

English (390)  Dutch (4)  Swedish (3)  Catalan (2)  Italian (2)  Spanish (2)  All (1)  Bulgarian (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (406)
Showing 1-5 of 390 (next | show all)
Definitely one of the books I'll need to read some secondary literature on now, because I don't think I fully "get it" just yet. ( )
  j_tuffi | May 30, 2020 |
Read. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 12, 2020 |
A book that feels simple but isn't. It is written so that despite its poetry (and cadence) it feels sparse, which is exactly the way the subject matter should be treated – with delicacy and power.

The Joan character was particularly fascinating to me. (see my inscribed notes).

I read it in hardcover, but the 50th edition hardcover is not listed as one of the 387 options by goodreads... ( )
  Kelmanel | Apr 17, 2020 |
A book review of "hmm how can i kill myself with this" by the the patron saint of tumblr and teenage angst (and now I see why).

The third quarter of the book is just Esther finding ways to kill herself. She needs a 100% certain death ofcourse, so she's slowly eliminating methods where she's unsure she will die. After a few of these incidents, it was difficult to feel any empathy for her. Everything becomes about suicide, and not in a smart way either. It's repetitive and ridiculous.
The problem is Esther's misguided pessimism feels a lot like the misguided optimism of Chris McCandless from Into The Wild. They are similar in essence just on opposite sides of the scale (seriously, think!). Both of them die as a result of stupid, myopic decisions and both stories can be enjoyed at face-value but can only pass as comedy when the subtext (which is already bubbling to the surface) is realized.
While the end was great and the book does have its moments (the fig tree, the feeding of the wardrobe into the night, Marco's diamond, etc), it was difficult getting through this one.

Tldr: The implicit self-pity got tiresome. ( )
  pod_twit | Mar 30, 2020 |
I finished reading The Bell Jar on the anniversary of Silvia Platt's birthday. How interesting! It was a great read. She really knew how to lay down prose so that the reader is propelled from the opening paragraph through the final sentence. She thoroughly captured the feel of her main character, Esther Greenwood. I felt the depression and withdrawal grow as the story progressed. She captured the essence of her character's mind and conveyed it through her words. This is the type of writing I hope to accomplish. ( )
  drew_asson | Mar 22, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 390 (next | show all)
Esther Greenwood's account of her year in the bell jar is as clear and readable as it is witty and disturbing. It makes for a novel such as Dorothy Parker might have written if she had not belonged to a generation infected with the relentless frivolity of the college- humor magazine. The brittle humor of that early generation is reincarnated in "The Bell Jar," but raised to a more serious level because it is recognized as a resource of hysteria.
 

» Add other authors (34 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Plath, Sylviaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ames, LoisBiographical Notesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dorsman-Vos, W.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fleckhaus, WillyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gyllenhaal, MaggieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaiser, ReinhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kurpershoek, RenéTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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for Elizabeth and David
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It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.
Quotations
That's one of the reasons I never wanted to get married. The last thing I wanted was infinite security and to be the place an arrow shoots off from. I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket. (p. 69)
The trouble was, I hated the idea of serving men in any way.
"We'll take it up where we left off, Esther," she had said, with her sweet, martyr's smile. "We'll act as if all of this were a bad dream" A bad dream. To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream. A bad dream. I remembered everything. I remembered the cadavers and Doreen and the story of the fig tree and Marco's diamond and the sailor on the Common and Doctor Gordon's wall-eyed nurse and the broken thermometers and the Negro with his two kinds of beans and the twenty pounds I gained on insulin and the rock that bulged between sky and sea like a gray skull. Maybe forgetfulness, like a kind snow, should numb and cover them. But they were part of me. They were my landscape. (p. 181)
I took a deep breath, and listened to the old bray of my heart: I am, I am, I am.
I began to think that maybe it was true that when you were married and had children it was like being brainwashed, and afterward you went about numb as a slave in some private, totalitarian state. (p. 70)
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