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The Bell Jar (1963)

by Sylvia Plath

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
24,910445103 (3.96)565
Beautiful and gifted, with a bright future, Esther Greenwood descends into depression, suicidal thoughts, and madness while interning at a New York City magazine.
1960s (13)
To Read (14)
Teens (5)

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» See also 565 mentions

English (425)  Dutch (4)  Italian (3)  Swedish (3)  Catalan (2)  Spanish (2)  Danish (2)  All (1)  Bulgarian (1)  All languages (443)
Showing 1-5 of 425 (next | show all)
Never has a book so moved me to and from the ideation of suicide. Whether that warrants 5 starts I am not sure, but the empathy induced is so strong that one cannot help but be there with Plath’s Roman-a-clef stand-in (whose name escapes me) as she navigates well… that which she does. ( )
  AlunStokes | May 17, 2022 |
I really liked this one! The first half of the book is somewhat "ordinary" as we are going through a life of Esther Greenwood who is later mentally falling apart. That second half of the book is (for me) the most interesting when Esther (Sylvia Plath) hits the bottom of her life and mind. Very graphical depiction! ( )
  tonimeter | May 13, 2022 |
Sylvia Platt wrote from a frighteningly real viewpoint. As a person with depression, reading The Bell Jar was alternately terrifying and numbing. How could she get into my body? I kept asking myself. This book should be standard reading for anyone touched by mental illness. ( )
  Windyone1 | May 10, 2022 |
The Bell Jar is a masterpiece of confessional literature. It almost reads like a verbatim diary of the consciousness of a girl in the depths of depression. There's no filter, no censorship, no toning down of sensitive topics. I think that's why I related a lot with it. I think that's also why it can be a tough read for some. The way that issues are presented can be read as being sensational, but I don't think it was. I think it was just raw. If you had access to the mind of a girl at that age, at a time like that, I don't think it would be so far from Esther's narrative. ( )
  kahell | May 4, 2022 |
The Bell Jar roughly chronicles Sylvia Plath's years in college including her internship at Mademoiselle Magazine in NYC, attempts at suicide, time spent institutionalized, shock therapy treatments, and various relationships with men and women. ( )
  KatherineGregg | Apr 26, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 425 (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 (34 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Plath, Sylviaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ames, LoisBiographical Notesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bottini, AdrianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dorsman-Vos, W.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fleckhaus, WillyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gorlier, ClaudioAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gyllenhaal, MaggieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaiser, ReinhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kurpershoek, RenéTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ravano, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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for Elizabeth and David
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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.
[Foreword] You might think that classics like The Bell Jar are immediately recognized the moment they reach a publisher's office.
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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Beautiful and gifted, with a bright future, Esther Greenwood descends into depression, suicidal thoughts, and madness while interning at a New York City magazine.

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Average: (3.96)
0.5 3
1 98
1.5 17
2 289
2.5 53
3 1260
3.5 271
4 2395
4.5 209
5 2050


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