A literary milestone: essential to any student of Plath’s work and, by extension, of modern literature.

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THE LETTERS OF SYLVIA PLATH VOLUME 1

1940-1956

A monumental gathering, in the first of two volumes, of the scattered correspondence of the now iconic—and canonical—poet and novelist.

Although her name is a byword for tragedy, Plath (1932-1963) was a talented writer whose life merits more currency than as the depressed wife of British poet Ted Hughes. Much of Plath’s promise is revealed in this collection of letters from 1940 until her marriage to Hughes in 1956. These letters alone serve to solidify her reputation as a skilled, thoughtful observer of the world and her own psyche. As Plath scholars Steinberg and Kukil note, an early collection of Plath’s correspondence, published in 1975, was incomplete and marked by editorial omissions and alterations; their aim in this project is “to present a complete and historically accurate text of all the known, existing letters to a full range of her correspondents.” In this, they have been remarkably successful. If some of the letters, especially the early ones, are of the mundane sort (“my complexion is showing signs of improvement daily,” writes the self-conscious teenager), this inaugural volume makes for a multifaceted portrait of a thoughtful young woman who might have gone on to even greater accomplishments than she did—and these, we learn here, extended to art and philately as well as literature. Knowing how the story ends prompts readers, of course, to seek signs of Plath’s later difficulties in these early pieces, many of which are of a confessional nature and written as if with an audience in mind. Indeed, such signs are to be found, as when the collegiate Plath writes to her mother, in a time commemorated by her novel The Bell Jar, “the crux of the matter is my attitude toward life—hinging on my science course. I have practically considered committing suicide to get out of it….I have become really frantic: small choices and events seem insurmountable obstacles, the core of life has fallen apart.”

A literary milestone: essential to any student of Plath’s work and, by extension, of modern literature.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-274043-4

Page Count: 1424

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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