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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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17,73526297 (3.98)387
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 (Author) (1963)

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» See also 387 mentions

English (257)  Dutch (2)  Catalan (2)  English (1)  All languages (262)
Showing 1-5 of 257 (next | show all)
"This book will make you want to slit your own wrists." "So sad, so tragic, you're going to hate this book." "Watch out, this one will devastate you."

Those are just some of the warnings I was given when I first picked up "The Bell Jar." I have to say... I don't agree with any of them. I loved this book. It was beautiful, fascinating and insightful. I agree it isn't a feel-good story but it wasn't as depressing as I expected. This book has a raw honesty that I hope I can reach in my own writing one day. ( )
  KRaySaulis | Aug 13, 2014 |
A great look at a young mind going through the lonely and sad journey of depression. Also a fascinating insight into the author herself. The pace is fast, and if you've experienced mental illness, or depression before, I think it is easy to relate to Plath's metaphor for her struggles, "The Bell Jar:. ( )
  Czarmoriarty | Aug 10, 2014 |
Gelezen voor het onderzoek van Emy Koopman, uitgebreid geanalyseerd. Zie onderzoeksresultaten t.z.t. ( )
  elsmvst | Jul 4, 2014 |
The BELL JAR was not what I expected. I'd put off reading this book for decades (literally; it was on my high school reading list) because I feared it would leave me depressed. I can't say it was exactly uplifting, but that's because it's a foreshadowing. But there were moments of hilarity and the writing feels very modern, although it was first published over 50 years ago. While Plath's writing about her depression, its treatments, and her time in the psychiatric hospital (the "asylum" as she liked to call it) didn't feel restrained or stingy, it was not sensationalized at all and perhaps the level of her writing (very high) supported the story itself, the story felt very well handled with a kind of elegance...it's hard to verbalize what I mean. I've recently read half a dozen memoirs on bipolar disorder and its calamities but BELL JAR felt like a story of mental illness dressed up in pearls? Although Plath was no snob in the least bit. She detested that kind of snooty behavior, or at least Esther Greenwood did. Of course, Plath was a poet and no one fusses and frets over words the way poets do, so it's to be expected that her writing would be so high-caliber.

What overshadows the Bell Jar probably creates more an aura of doom and sadness than the actual story itself. Most surprising was the humor. There were several laugh out loud funny parts and scathing descriptions of people Esther disliked. She didn't voice her criticisms out loud, but they were of the slice one to ribbons variety. Also, it's clear that she got a kick out of the word asylum and used it at every opportunity, just as casually as one would use the term office or house. "I'm going back to the asylum after this." The book's saddest arc involves Joan, one of Esther's frenemies from college.

I will re-read this one and recommend it highly to all readers I know (and some I don't). I have added her other works to my Want To Read list as well. ( )
  WordMaven | Jun 24, 2014 |
This has been on my TBR list for a very long time and it's one of those books I'm sorry I didn't read sooner. Plath writes some beautiful metaphors and creates wonderful imagery in her prose. The elements of poetry in her style are extremely engaging, drawing the reader's interest fully into the book.

Plath has written about depression in a manner that gives a very realistic picture, providing insight for those who have never experienced it first hand. The bell jar not only distorts vision, it suffocates. In addition to dealing with depression, Esther (the main character) is a woman attempting to find her place in what is very much a man's world during the late 1950s in the US. I can't think of a more appropriate metaphor than a bell jar to describe both the social and emotional struggle experienced by women at the time. I can see why this book is considered her masterpiece. ( )
  Neftzger | Jun 20, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 257 (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 (97 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Plath, SylviaAuthorprimary 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.)
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:31 -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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