ARIEL ASCENDING: Writings About Sylvia Plath by Paul--Ed. Alexander

ARIEL ASCENDING: Writings About Sylvia Plath

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Editor Alexander (English, U. of Houston, Texas) undertook this critical anthology ""with the intention of providing not only a current critical look at Sylvia Plath but also--by including essays which avoid sensationzalizing her life and death and instead examine the craft of her poetry and prose--a sort of milestone to indicate a more appropriate way of regarding Sylvia Plath."" The first seven pieces here focus on Plath's poetry: Helen Vendler's 1982 New Yorker review of The Collected Poems, with subdued praise for Plath's genius at evoking ""wild states of feeling"": Joyce Carol Oates' 1973 study of the lyric poetry; and less persuasive entries by Stanley Plumly, John Frederick Nims, Barbara Hardy, Mary Lynn Broe, and Katha Pollitt. Then comes Elizabeth Hardwick's fine study of Plath's self-destructive/art connection (from Seduction and Betrayal)--followed by three essays (Howard Moss, Robert Scholes, Vance Bourjaily) on The Bell Jar, Rosellen Brown's useful quick-survey of Plath's short fiction, and husband Ted Hughes on the Journals--a longer version of his introduction to their 1982 edition. And the final section offers somewhat more personal memoirs: Grace Schulman on Plath at Yaddo; Anne Sexton's 1965 elegy; the well-known A. Alvarez memoir that become the core of The Savage God; and a four-page 1983 letter from Plath's mother. Little impressive new material, then, but a worthwhile, reasonably balanced roundup of critiques.

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 1984
Publisher: Harper & Row