Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar (original 1963; edition 2005)

by Sylvia Plath

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
18,45528693 (3.97)409
Title:The Bell Jar
Authors:Sylvia Plath
Info:Faber & Faber (2005), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 240 pages

Work details

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (Author) (1963)

1960s (53)
Unread books (1,132)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 409 mentions

English (280)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (2)  English (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (286)
Showing 1-5 of 280 (next | show all)
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 |
What an amazing book! Esther Greenwood is a brilliant, young woman who has a bright future in front of her but is slowly unwinding. Plath's descriptions of Esther's descent is frighteningly real and rational. Esther dispassionately (or coolly) talks about being cut off from the world around her, about giving up her scholarship, and finally about her plans for killing herself. The depression drips off the pages like large, black drops of pooling blood. This is always a personal story with so many clues to Esther's descent but the story never really explains why or what caused this break - was it because of her push to be the "scholarship girl", her indecision about what to do after college or her fear of losing herself to a man. Esther feels as if she wouldn't be able to do anything once she is married and yet they call her and wonders why because the only thing that is more clear than the depression is her contempt (fear?) of men. An excellent story that will have me reading, "Letters Home: Correspondence, 1950-1963", to find out how much of this story was just really good writing and how much was auto-biographical. ( )
  mmoj | Sep 6, 2015 |
The first few chapters reminded me of The Catcher in the Rye; I thought of Esther as the female version of Holden
  smiley0905 | Sep 3, 2015 |
One of those classics that I finally got around to reading. Wow, The Bell Jar sure packs a punch and can be tough to read at times. It definitely can be depressing (with the potential of messing with the reader's mind) but so very well-written. This novel is supposed to be a semi-autobiographical version of author Sylvia Plath's life. She committed suicide not long after its writing and it is hard to realize how much of the main character Esther Greenwood's thoughts probably mirrored Plath's. ( )
  ValerieAndBooks | Aug 31, 2015 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 280 (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

Has as a study

Has as a student's study guide

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Haiku summary

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

Legacy Library: Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath has a Legacy Library. Legacy libraries are the personal libraries of famous readers, entered by LibraryThing members from the Legacy Libraries group.

See Sylvia Plath's legacy profile.

See Sylvia Plath's author page.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
29 avail.
208 wanted
15 pay5 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.97)
0.5 2
1 76
1.5 16
2 213
2.5 44
3 955
3.5 241
4 1775
4.5 173
5 1604


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 99,690,970 books! | Top bar: Always visible