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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
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The Bell Jar (original 1963; edition 2005)

by Sylvia Plath

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18,40328393 (3.97)408
Member:AnglersRest
Title:The Bell Jar
Authors:Sylvia Plath
Info:Faber & Faber (2005), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Wishlist
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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (Author) (1963)

1960s (89)
Unread books (1,132)
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English (277)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (2)  English (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (283)
Showing 1-5 of 277 (next | show all)
On its own I don't think this is any great read. The momentum of this story comes from the fact that it is semi-autobiographical of Plath's life. I wanted to give it 4 stars based on my enjoyment of the book but had to downgrade to 3 based on my evaluation of the quality of the writing. Most of the metaphors are unimpressive. In fact, the descriptions in general are quite elementary. My hunch is that if Plath had not committed suicide this book would have gone nowhere. However, the book is compelling. It is addicting in the same way reality TV is addicting. Give it a go and enjoy it, but don't be mislead into thinking this is great literature. ( )
  valorrmac | Aug 19, 2015 |
I loved this book (and happily finished it just in time for a book club discussion - as in, literally an hour prior to the meeting!). For a short novel, there are so many themes that Sylvia Plath weaves into this semi-autobiographical tale - feminism, mental illness, sexuality, relationships, family, the challenges of life. What truly resonated with me was the coming-of-age aspect of this story, as a girl who was smart and did well in school had to face the challenge of deciding what to do with her life and the pressure to follow a conventional path (for her era) of becoming a secretary or a wife. A brilliant novel! ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jul 28, 2015 |
[Releyendo porque no puedo concentrarme en nada nuevo, porque extrañaba esta historia, y porque si... y tambien estoy de humor para el bajón.] ( )
  LaMala | Jun 7, 2015 |
I was pretty hesitant going into this book in the beginning. Two things prevented me from starting it way sooner:

1. 1. I had to read it for summer reading (let’s be honest with each other) who seriously wants to be forced to read books? BUT. We must. Unfortunately. Otherwise, we will all fail those tests and papers that are given on the first day of school that destroy our grade for the rest of the semester it seems like, because we didn't read a book.
2. 2. All my friends who had already completed their summer reading kept saying how terrible and dreadfully boring this novel was.

As you can see, I had my reasons that I felt allowed me to procrastinate.

Finally, about a week ago I picked The Bell Jar up around 3 A.M. As you can imagine I fell asleep about 15 minutes later. The whole next day I procrastinated till about 5 P.M. where I had to force myself to sit down in my desk, and read this novel. (At least try to…) Fast forward three hours, and you would see me fully emerged in the story.

It’s definitely not my favorite book of all time, but the concept is what enthralled me. We have this book that is written by a woman who has experienced all these things that the main character is experiencing. There’s not too many like this one out there today.

Side-note: Sylvia Plath was married to Ted Hughes, who became extremely jealous of all of her success as a writer. She suffered from depression, and eventually committed suicide. However, what made her writing be set apart from all the others at the time was her…uniqueness for a lack of a better word. During this time, nobody really knew how to deal with depression. You were locked up, and put out of mind. Obviously, our medical knowledge has come very far since then with new medication and such. Her writing showed her depression in a way that it made (and still does) readers pause, because it was so different from all the lovey-dovey murder mystery writings of the time. She showed people a different side of the human mind.

Anyway, we follow Esther through her journey of dealing with her depression. We see how people around her act. Her mother doesn't understand why Esther doesn't want to be just a secretary, but wants to be more than what a secretary requires. We see how the roles of men and females have changed since Esther’s time. We also get to see what a psychiatric hospital was like then.

The Bell Jar is a haunting and depressing novel, but believe it or not it’s a book that you should read. This novel puts you in the place of a young woman who is spiraling downwards in a world and a society that doesn't know how to handle it properly. It’s a raw book, but it gets you to think.
( )
  mamelotti | Apr 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 277 (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 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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