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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
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The Bell Jar (original 1963; edition 2006)

by Sylvia Plath

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19,43033082 (3.97)437
Member:tglong
Title:The Bell Jar
Authors:Sylvia Plath
Info:Harper Perennial Modern Classics (2006), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1963)

1960s (98)
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» See also 437 mentions

English (320)  Dutch (3)  Catalan (2)  Swedish (2)  Spanish (1)  English (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (330)
Showing 1-5 of 320 (next | show all)
Not so much of a review, just a note to confirm that after years of trying, I give up.

I can see that The Bell Jar is an intelligent and, for its time, courageous venture into issues of relationship, the perception of women in western society, the taboo of mental health, the medieval treatment of mental health issues, the classification of non-conformist identity as mental illness, and other topics that clearly needed to be discussed at the time when Plath wrote the book - and still need to be discussed.

No, my issues are not with the book as a work of social record. What I am giving up on after years of trying different samples of her work is Plath's writing - it does nothing for me and I found it a bit of a tedious slog to finally finish the book based on one of the whiniest characters in history. ( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
Even though it was published in the early sixties, this book is surprisingly fresh and relatable. Sylvia Plath is funny and self-deprecating despite her subject, and her vivid writing reveals someone who is keenly aware of being alive, even if she does not always take joy from it. ( )
  doryfish | Aug 15, 2016 |
Not as bad as I feared, but I don't know that I'd ever reread it, and I still can't forgive Sylvia Plath for her poetry, in particular "You're". "My little loaf" indeed. Blegh. ( )
  thebookmagpie | Aug 7, 2016 |
I don't remember much about it; a to read again book.
  newnoz | Aug 6, 2016 |
I am I am I am ... glad to have revisited this book while almost at a loss of what all to say about it in a review.

I could say that I fell in love with the complexity of the narrator's character and her internal and external contradictions back when I was 14 and wholly unprepared for a book to have so much of a relatable emotional resonance. That part of me loved the book while a small part hated it as well because it felt a lot more eye-opening than anything else I'd come across by then. Bringing on a sense of uncomfortable self awareness that, I believe, only the most genuine works can. As if it amped up my sight just enough to envision everyone else shouldering their own personal bell jars, balking and straining at the edges. While allowing what I felt were the edges of my own to come into sharp focus.

I could say that The Bell Jar is certainly not a cool quench to the flame of teenage angst. Which is why I believe it sometimes gets avoided and associated with that slightly dismal purview.

What I'll say instead is that I think it's a book worth reading at some point in your life. Actually more like multiple points in your life. Because it has something genuine, emotional, wry, human,... to offer. If for no other reason than for it to pose the question, "I am I am I am..." what? when you most need to answer it. ( )
  lamotamant | Jun 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 320 (next | show all)
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.
added by Shortride | editTime, Martha Duffy (Jun 21, 1971)
 
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.
 

» 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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Epigraph
Dedication
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.
Quotations
"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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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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

Legacy Library: Sylvia Plath

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