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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar (original 1963; edition 2006)

by Sylvia Plath

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19,95434079 (3.97)464
Title:The Bell Jar
Authors:Sylvia Plath
Info:Harper Perennial Modern Classics (2006), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1963)

1960s (49)

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English (328)  Dutch (3)  Swedish (2)  Catalan (2)  All (1)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  Bulgarian (1)  Spanish (1)  All (340)
Showing 1-5 of 328 (next | show all)
It was extremely haunting. I had to put the book down several times from the intensity of several of the parts of the book, before I eventually came back to it, which made this book take longer to read than usual. It was a very good book though, so well written and real, I could almost feel the insanity that was gripping escher greenwood while I was reading it, which made the tangibility all the more captivating, and at times intolerable. ( )
  NekoApocalypse | Apr 19, 2017 |
It was extremely haunting. I had to put the book down several times from the intensity of several of the parts of the book, before I eventually came back to it, which made this book take longer to read than usual. It was a very good book though, so well written and real, I could almost feel the insanity that was gripping escher greenwood while I was reading it, which made the tangibility all the more captivating, and at times intolerable. ( )
  NekoApocalypse | Apr 19, 2017 |
This book as been on my list to read for years. What a fantastic book, so sad, so real. You just wanted to hug her MC. ( )
  caanderson | Apr 15, 2017 |
This was the first time I'd read Sylvia Plath, and it wasn't really what I expected. I'm not sure why, but originally I thought the writing style would be more formal and structured than what I read in The Bell Jar, which turned out to be a more fluid, train-of-thought sort of writing. Needless to say, I'm a huge fan of this style, having been turned on to it long ago by Catcher in the Rye.

She's a troubled girl from the start, while she's on an internship of sorts at a magazine, getting to experience the high life in New York. However she still seems to struggle to fit in--acting like the other girls doesn't come as naturally to her and she doesn't always seem to want it to.

Once the summer comes, she returns home, and that's where it is more clear that she is in distress. She has little to do with her days, and her only desire now is to die. And this is written by someone who actually knows that feeling, as Ms. Plath had experienced it strongly herself.

I think that is what stuck out most to me in the book. I've seen badly written suicide attempts many, many times. Written by people who like the dramatic idea of it, but lack the actual feeling behind it. Here the thoughts all match up perfectly with the overwhelming feeling of suicide, and with the identity of the character. How calmly she swallows pill after pill--how desperately she tries to drown herself in the salt water while swimming with friends, only to be forced to resurface every time. And, in particular, as they pass over a bridge while driving her to the asylum, and she plans to jump out into the water. As an observer you know that is senseless. It's a small river with picturesque sailboats, and she has the mad idea she'd be able to kill herself if she were to jump in. Those thoughts belong to the desperate, suicidal mind. (All the same, her family on either side of her lean forward as they cross, so that she can't reach the handles on the car doors).

I read this book so quickly. I was enraptured with the protagonist, Esther, and all that went on for her. I found it a very good read. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
Esther Greenwood is an intelligent, promising young woman who might seem to have everything going for her. But, overwhelmed by her choices for the future, stifled by the realities of her present, and trapped just on the wrong side of the sexual revolution, she finds herself becoming detached and suicidal.

It's maybe a little surprising I've gone this long without reading this one. I am glad to have done so now. It's well-written and the characterization feels deeply realistic. But I have to admit, I had to keep almost forcing myself to pick it up. It was just entirely too depressing for the current beautiful spring weather. I feel like I should have saved it for the depths of winter. ( )
  bragan | Mar 22, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 328 (next | show all)
Her subject--the nervous breakdown and attempted suicide of a well-behaved, bright and successful college girl during the summer vacation of 1953--is hardly topical, and for careful, plain, dolorous prose style, which conveys the world of the heroine under the bell jar of madness with its "stifling distortions," offers few sentimental attractions. It is not a facile, entertaining or dramatic book; it has none of the sharp bitter humor and bite of her poems. It's not well shaped (it can be quite awkward); it offers no modish visionary thrills from the world of the insane, and though it has scenes of college life, the suburbs and the fashion magazine world of the 1950's for the most part it just hangs there dully and drags you down with its heroine; you don't believe she really recovers. Its vague, absorbent, melancholy pull lingers for weeks.
[Plath] had failed to understand Esther's malady, and had left behind an incomplete symbol of the age it reflected. Such a reading makes "The Bell Jar" a considerably better book than Miss Plath regarded it.
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.
The Bell Jar is a marvelously unself-conscious confessional novel dashed off before such documents were in vogue. Now, however, it is as if the likes of Joan Didion have merely been sweeping the stage for Sylvia's ghostly comeback.

» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Plath, Sylviaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dorsman-Vos, W.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fleckhaus, WillyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaiser, ReinhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lois AmesBiographical Notesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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for Elizabeth and David
First words
It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.
"She stared at her reflection in the glossed shop window as if to make sure, moment by moment, that she continued to exist."
The trouble was, I hated the idea of serving men in any way.
To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream.
I took a deep breath, and listened to the old bray of my heart: I am, I am, I am.
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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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 12 descriptions

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