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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar (1963)

by Sylvia Plath

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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21,328374101 (3.97)502
1960s (43)
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» See also 502 mentions

English (358)  Dutch (3)  Swedish (3)  Italian (2)  Catalan (2)  All (1)  Bulgarian (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (372)
Showing 1-5 of 358 (next | show all)
Couldn't put it down. Fascinatingly dark and witty novel exploring how do we fit into a world that isn't shaped for us in the first place. Plaith writes characters that are flawed and human, leaving a sense of a world that is insensible at best. Genius. ( )
  sarahpeacock28 | Oct 21, 2018 |
Deeply depressing.
Esther Greenwood is talented and successful. She has decent looks and is in New York on a big fat scholarship. She has her whole life ahead of her. But things go downhill very quickly for Esther. Things get so bad to the point that her doctor recommends shock therapy which traumatizes the poor girl and since her spiraling even further downhill. During her steady decline she tries to commit suicide and is consequently thrown into a mental institution. And that's when things get really serious... or crazy rather 🤔
This book dives into the deepest pits of our psyche. It chronicles the dark descent into psychosis. And as the main character is also the narrator we get an inside look at what's going on inside her head. It is almost maddening in itself to read the pages of this book. And it is heartbreaking to watch such a strong successful woman go down so quickly in flames. Very reminiscent of Girl, Interrupted... Or should I say Girl, Interrupted is very reminiscent of The Bell Jar since the latter was written first? The Bell Jar definitely takes place in a decade way before Girl, Interrupted did. However they ended in very much the same way.
I devoured this book in one sitting but then again it's not a very large book. This was my first Sylvia Plath book and I have to say I'm glad I gave it a chance. It seems to me that people who have read this book either love it or hate it. To be honest I kind of feel indifferent about it. I didn't adore the book but I didn't loathe it either.
Perhaps this is one of those classics that everybody should read once because it acts as a time capsule as well as a look into mental illness and psychosis, both of which it is written beautifully for.
With that in mind I would definitely recommend reading this book at least once to take a look into are human past and what may be even more scary, I look into our own human minds. ( )
  TheReadingMermaid | Sep 28, 2018 |
Wonderful read. Read it through in one sitting-- skipped sleep simply because I could NOT put this book down. ( )
  Borrows-N-Wants | Sep 23, 2018 |
I have put off reading this book for years. The descriptions, comments and reviews I had seen, while almost universally positive, made me feel that I wouldn't like the book. And in some respects, I was correct: for the first third of the book, I wasn't interested. Esther's life in New York was of a kind that I could imagine but didn't have much interest in and her interior monologues convinced me that she was a person I could not readily relate to.

However, in the second half of the book, I found Esther more understandable (though never totally so). And though to my more modern sensibilities, it was upsetting that the doctors didn't try any drug therapies before electro-shock was applied, my intellect knows that this was common in that era. One thing Plath did extremely well was convey how Esther might find suicide a reasonable alternative to life committed to an asylum. ( )
  leslie.98 | Sep 22, 2018 |
Esther Greenwood is beautiful, successful, and talented. She seems to have it all. However, she is also going mad! Little by little, she loses interest in the things that once interested her, and common, everyday rituals become more and more difficult.

In this story, Sylvia Plath allows the reader to follow Esther’s gradual descent into madness. The characters she has created are so realistic, and Esther’s progression is described and explained so well, that it makes sense.

I recommend this classic. It is extraordinary in its realism, interesting in its explanations, and exemplary in describing something that many of us will never experience. ( )
  Sandralovesbooks | Sep 8, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 358 (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 (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.
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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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)

» see all 17 descriptions

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