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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar (original 1963; edition 2006)

by Sylvia Plath

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18,54929092 (3.97)411
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 (Author) (1963)

1960s (53)
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English (284)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (2)  English (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (290)
Showing 1-5 of 284 (next | show all)
Esther is a college student, there on a scholarship. While there, she dates a few different guys, and later ends up with depression and in a hospital in the psychiatric ward after attempting suicide.

It was ok. It kept my interest, but I found Esther really odd and didn't find myself caring all that much what happened to her. Some parts I found difficult to figure out what was happening, as it was kind of vague at times. ( )
  LibraryCin | Nov 14, 2015 |
Ok so I only gave this book four stars because it wasn't something that interested me that much. I think many people, especially women, could easily relate to the protagonist, Esther Greenwood. The book was well written and very honest. Sometimes her honesty is unbelievable as she tells many embarrassing stories that most people would keep hidden. What really sets this book apart though is that if you research the author, Sylvia Plath, you will find that this book is very auto-biographical. Many of the events in the story were taken from Sylvia's own life. This book is also filled with tons of themes and analogies. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who as ever struggled with any kind of mental illness, whether it is small or major, and to anyone who is interested in mental illnesses and how people who have them think and feel. ( )
  RickyHaas | Nov 2, 2015 |
This is one of those books I picked up while browsing my college bookstore to see what classes I wasn't taking were reading. I would go in after the first few weeks of class, when most people should have a copy of any books they needed for class, and pick up used copies of whatever looked interesting. The Bell Jar, having been on my radar since my junior year of high school, was one of those.

It's taken me a while to finally get around to reading it, but I feel like this is a case of a book finally being read not when it's acquired, but when it's needed.

Esther Greenwood is an amazing character, and I find myself relating to her in many ways. I've struggled with the mindset of doing what's expected while still trying to find the time and energy to do what I want for years, and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere soon. Also, lately I have felt the stifling disruption of the bell jar around my head, the distorted reality keeping me at a distance from anything and everything, even the things that interest me. Also, the story of the fig tree hit me where I live! My mind pulls me in so many directions at once, I want to do everything, be everything, but deciding on any sort of order or priority seems impossible.

The reason I finally decided to pick up this book now, other than I just felt it was finally time, is that it was one of the monthly selections for the BookTube Reading Buddies group on Goodreads for the month of October. Since I had been keeping it close at hand to read soon anyway, this felt like the perfect time to finally give it a read. And it really was. Some of the things I've been going through mentally and emotionally lately can now be better verbalized because of Esther's, and Sylvia Plath's, experiences.

The story itself reminded me of other, later works that were clearly influenced by Plath (Girl, Interrupted immediately jumped to mind several times). Following Esther's slow decline as bad thing after bad thing seems to happen to her, many due to societal pressures, was both upsetting and harrowing. I don't want to get into too many details because I went into this one fairly blind, and I think others should as well, since I think that added to my enjoyment of it, not knowing what to expect next.

This particular copy also features an essay entitled "Sylvia Plath: A Biographical Note" by Lois Ames, which gives a nicely compact history of Plath and is interspersed with eight of Plath's drawings. ( )
  regularguy5mb | Oct 19, 2015 |
I'm giving this four stars, because as I recall, at the end of the book Esther Greenwood says that she feels like she's "retreaded and ready for the road," which doesn't sound so much like the rebirth Sylvia Plath was going for, as much as it sounds like she's preparing herself to take the same shit, on a different day.

The writing is outstanding, even if the book is depressingly heartbreaking. Depending on your outlook, I wouldn't advise reading this if you're already feeling low, but on the other hand, misery loves company, so it might help you feel less alone, like someone else walked this path before you. I wouldn't recommend reading it if you're in a fragile state of mind. ( )
  harrietbrown | Oct 5, 2015 |
This has been my favourite book of all time since I first read it when I was 16, when I was just starting to struggle with my own depression, but I hadn't re-read it in at least a decade. It was very good for me to come back to it again now. It's the clearest, most vivid, most accurate portrayal of exactly what it feels like to slide into that darkness that's out there. It was also very inspirational to me from a writing standpoint, because Plath is my literary role model and it made me want to go out and do my own quality work to be reminded of how well she can write. ( )
  selfcallednowhere | Sep 8, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 284 (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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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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