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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar (1963)

by Sylvia Plath

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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21,696385100 (3.97)510
1960s (29)
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Showing 1-5 of 369 (next | show all)
"It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York."

I enjoy this book immensely. So much so I gave it as a graduation present to a friend of mine, because, despite the shadow of its author's life, this is an inspirational book.

Esther slips into the dense, muggy atmosphere of her worst mind and barely emerges, but emerge she does. Depression on any scale is a struggle, the worst of it in my experience was the persistant feelings of isolation. This novel, and, in a quieter way, [book:Villette], were what cut through walls I had begun to take for granted. The Bell Jar shook me out of my brooding state and realize I wasn't alone or solitarily plagued in a way no concerned frown or prying question could.

Call it schadenfreude, but this is a happy book. ( )
1 vote ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
When I say I really liked this book, it was not because of the topic or even the ending. It was a well written book about a topic that needs to be talked about a lot more. This is an autobiographical novel by Sylvia Plath. Her voice is alive in this novel with some humour and depth. It is a sad book about a difficult topic. Unfortunately, her life did not have a happy ending and neither does this book.

The book begins on an upbeat note with Esther in New York as a guest of a fashion magazine, working as a sort of intern. The group of young women (12 in all) are living at a hotel for women and being feted with endless rounds of shopping and parties in exchange for writing and editing articles for the magazine, with the prospect of being snatched up by a big publishing house at the end of the rainbow. As her time in New York comes to an end, you can see her problems starting. She begins to rebel and chooses not attend some of the functions. She stops going to the magazine until she is summoned by her "boss" and actually throws all her clothes off the top of the building. Once she returns home, her troubles escalate and she quickly spirals into depression. When the depression and suicidal tendencies start, they come on suddenly, but we never why. She attempts several times and ways to commit suicide but is not successful. She becomes a resident in a series of "asylums", with different treatments and different doctors. The book ends with no answer or resolution to Esther's mental condition. She is back at school and ready to move forward with her life, but still has mental health issues. Unfortunately, Syliva Plath took her own life at the young age of 30. ( )
  Carlathelibrarian | Feb 5, 2019 |
Sylvia Plath's story of Esther Greenwood's descent into madness is both enjoyable and terrifying at the same time. This is a true classic of teen angst in 1950s America, with particular attention paid to the difficulties that women faced during that time (and still do to this day). A classic that exposes the challenges of mental health and the monstrous "treatments" that were used to help cure people that suffer from this disease. ( )
  rsplenda477 | Jan 18, 2019 |
This was a story of a young girl, Esther, in the 1950s who was interning at a junior editor for a NYC magazine. She does the internship, and then finds out that a story she submitted to get into a special writing class has been rejected and that seems to be the beginning of her downfall. She slowly has a mental breakdown and has to return to living with her mother after the internship instead of returning to school. She attempts suicide and lands herself in a mental institution. She has electroshock therapy while she is there and a friend of hers is also admitted. Her friend ends up killing herself and this seems to turn something in Esther and help lead her to recovery.

I liked this book well enough. It was a little confusing at times. To me it seemed the Esther went from being perfectly fine to attempting suicide rather quickly. But the overall book was well written.

The notes at the end of the book were the most helpful and understanding the book. Sylvia Plath, the author, killed herself at a very young age. Many people speculate that the story of Esther rivals Sylvia's own path with depression. This is the only book she ever wrote. ( )
  JenMat | Jan 10, 2019 |
A nail biting tail of a young lady with everything to gain slowly slipping into madness. Ms.Plath knows exactly how madness takes over and describes it perfectly. ( )
  joannemonck | Dec 30, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 369 (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 (51 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Plath, SylviaAuthorprimary authorall 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
Lois AmesBiographical Notesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061148512, Paperback)

Plath was an excellent poet but is known to many for this largely autobiographical novel. The Bell Jar tells the story of a gifted young woman's mental breakdown beginning during a summer internship as a junior editor at a magazine in New York City in the early 1950s. The real Plath committed suicide in 1963 and left behind this scathingly sad, honest and perfectly-written book, which remains one of the best-told tales of a woman's descent into insanity.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:09 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

This novel--echoing Plath's own experiences as a rising writer/editor in the early 1950s--chronicles the nervous breakdown of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, successful, but slowly going under, and maybe for the last time.… (more)

» see all 17 descriptions

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