SYLVIA PLATH: The Woman and the Work by Edward--Ed. Butscher

SYLVIA PLATH: The Woman and the Work

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KIRKUS REVIEW

These two groups of essays, edited and with an introduction by a respected Plath biographer, only begin to fill in the remaining gaps of this poet's mystique. The first and stronger section includes intimate portraits of Sylvia as seen through the eyes of an old lover (Gordon Lameyer), a fellow poet (Richard Wilbur), and a teacher at Cambridge (Dorothea Krook), as well as several episodes which replace the vision of a cult goddess with that of an ambitious young writer driven to achieve between suicide attempts, broken relationships, and academic pressures. The second, critical half of the book is overweighted with the usual Freudian platitudes about Plath's suicide, her father's death, and myriad dissections of rhyme, meter, and vision--pitfalls to which even contributor Joyce Carol Oates falls prey. However, Butscher has included two interesting refutations of Plath's ""holy"" place in American poetry, by Marjorie Perloff and Irving Howe, and has provided a sense of the poet's growth by ordering the sections chronologically. It's about time the glorification of Plath's death gave way to the more important issue of her life: Butscher has made some inroads but the recapitulation of old material precludes any significant new insights.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Dodd, Mead