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Ariel: The Restored Edition (Modern Classics)

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Sylvia Plath's famous collection, as she intended it.When Sylvia Plath died, she not only left behind a prolific life but also her unpublished literary masterpiece, Ariel. When her husband, Ted Hughes, first brought this collection to life, it garnered worldwide acclaim, though it wasn't the draft Sylvia had wanted her readers to see. This facsimile edition restores, for t Sylvia Plath's famous collection, as she intended it.When Sylvia Plath died, she not only left behind a prolific life but also her unpublished literary masterpiece, Ariel. When her husband, Ted Hughes, first brought this collection to life, it garnered worldwide acclaim, though it wasn't the draft Sylvia had wanted her readers to see. This facsimile edition restores, for the first time, Plath's original manuscript -- including handwritten notes -- and her own selection and arrangement of poems. This edition also includes in facsimile the complete working drafts of her poem "Ariel," which provide a rare glimpse into the creative process of a beloved writer. This publication introduces a truer version of Plath's works, and will no doubt alter her legacy forever.This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.


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Sylvia Plath's famous collection, as she intended it.When Sylvia Plath died, she not only left behind a prolific life but also her unpublished literary masterpiece, Ariel. When her husband, Ted Hughes, first brought this collection to life, it garnered worldwide acclaim, though it wasn't the draft Sylvia had wanted her readers to see. This facsimile edition restores, for t Sylvia Plath's famous collection, as she intended it.When Sylvia Plath died, she not only left behind a prolific life but also her unpublished literary masterpiece, Ariel. When her husband, Ted Hughes, first brought this collection to life, it garnered worldwide acclaim, though it wasn't the draft Sylvia had wanted her readers to see. This facsimile edition restores, for the first time, Plath's original manuscript -- including handwritten notes -- and her own selection and arrangement of poems. This edition also includes in facsimile the complete working drafts of her poem "Ariel," which provide a rare glimpse into the creative process of a beloved writer. This publication introduces a truer version of Plath's works, and will no doubt alter her legacy forever.This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

30 review for Ariel: The Restored Edition (Modern Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Since about 1980 I have probably read Ariel six times, and once again I step back from it thinking, My God! It remains for me the most powerful collection of poetry that I’ve ever read. However, I should probably scratch that word “remains,” since my previous readings had me in awe of numerous poems within the collection. But with this new edition, I am reading for the first time, Plath’s arrangement, which jacks things up considerably (How could that be possible?). I have no side in the Hughes Since about 1980 I have probably read Ariel six times, and once again I step back from it thinking, My God! It remains for me the most powerful collection of poetry that I’ve ever read. However, I should probably scratch that word “remains,” since my previous readings had me in awe of numerous poems within the collection. But with this new edition, I am reading for the first time, Plath’s arrangement, which jacks things up considerably (How could that be possible?). I have no side in the Hughes / Plath wars. He cheated on her; she was high maintenance. As an outsider, it’s impossible to know much more beyond that surface story. On the poetry side of things, I have always thought that Hughes (a superb poet), with his violent and powerful imagery (see Crow) provided an assist in Plath’s own growth as a poet. And being the smart girl that she was, she would not be outdone in savage imagery, especially when Hughes provided her, though his adultery, with a red hot core of poetic purpose. And I don’t think this can be downplayed in any way. Frieda Hughes, the couple’s daughter, says so clearly in her (indispensible) Introduction, acknowledging (what we all know) that Ariel is an act of revenge. For Frieda, this is a difficult and sensitive subject. She loved her father, she loved her mother. She does try to recycle – though she doesn’t necessarily agree -- the old Hughes argument that the earlier arrangement was done for Art’s sake. Not so, not even close. There are a few poems that could have been dropped as weak (“Barren Woman” and “Magi” being agreed upon examples), but overall the restored poems are very strong. Moreover, it’s their placement that matters. If Plath’s collection was an act of literary revenge, Hughes' editing was an also an act of literary violence. He deliberately muddied the waters, blurring the impact of the collection as a whole. You see this in both the beginning and ending of the collection. The new edition follows an arc, an arc that, with all its ferocious savagery, strangely enough becomes transcendent with the last grouping of poems, which ends with “Wintering.” In the earlier edition of Ariel, Hughes has these poems (starting with “Daddy”) in sequence, but then tacked on a monkey’s tail grab bag of poems that robs the reader of the sense of closure that Plath’s arrangement provides. (It also helps to dilute the impact of the accusatory “Daddy.”) But it’s the beginning that really shocked me. The dropping of “The Rabbit Catcher,” a very strong poem, and one that must of burned Hughes' ears right off, is where the violence to Plath’s purpose is most obvious. It’s a key poem, since it establishes a foundation for the recurring accusatory poems (“A Secret,” “The Jailer,” “Daddy,” and I’m sure others), and these poems are part of an intended tapestry. I have no doubt that this restored version of Ariel will be the one that will now be studied, argued over, etc., from now on. Hughes' deceptive version will also be studied, but it will exist now as a footnote. It’s a testimony to the power of Plath’s poems that Ariel can exist in both forms, but there is no doubt which is the better version.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    I have always meant to read a book about the life of Sylvia Plath and to learn about the whole Ted Hughes adventure – but something there is that doesn’t love that kind of voyeurism and to date I have avoided it. There is a sense, however, where I think Plath’s poetry is so intensely personal that it would make sense to read it knowing more of the story of the American poet who killed herself on the bleak winter’s day in the year in which I was born. This ‘reinstatement’ of Plath’s Ariel has a fo I have always meant to read a book about the life of Sylvia Plath and to learn about the whole Ted Hughes adventure – but something there is that doesn’t love that kind of voyeurism and to date I have avoided it. There is a sense, however, where I think Plath’s poetry is so intensely personal that it would make sense to read it knowing more of the story of the American poet who killed herself on the bleak winter’s day in the year in which I was born. This ‘reinstatement’ of Plath’s Ariel has a foreword by Frieda Hughes, her daughter. It is a touching and interesting introduction to the poems and to the significance of a life as seen by her daughter. Frieda makes some interesting comments about the nature of art, poetry and artist – and other collective creations. The most interesting of all is how much we like to pretend we ‘know’ an artist by their poetry – but too often it works the other way around and the artist becomes a shadow we think of as being filled out by their poems. My favourite example of this is Beethoven who wrote both the forth and fifth symphonies at exactly the same time. If they were a reflection of his mood at the time then clearly he suffered from some kind of multiple personality disorder. This collection of poems contains some of Plath’s most disturbing and confronting poems. Daddy, for example, and Lady Lazarus are terribly difficult poems to read, even if they are perhaps the easiest poems to understand in this collection – they are raw and yet crafted at the same time. Plath more than any other poet is to be read aloud. These are poems that work as music and getting the music of the poems right is an important part of ‘getting’ the poems. The book also contains a series of ‘Facsimile drafts of the poem “Ariel”’ and there are eleven versions of the poem reprinted here. There is a terrible idea that people who do not know much about poetry believe that a great poet is somehow someone who can pop off a poem in one go and there it sits before them complete and perfect. This is rarely, if ever the case. A writer only becomes a writer when they learn that the creative process is a process. And most importantly, that that process is iterative. It is also important to think that if she spent quite so long writing the poem it might pay to spend a proportionate amount of time reading the poem. Before we go, I want to quote Plath’s, Tulips: The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here. Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands. I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions. I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses And my history to the anaesthetist and my body to surgeons. They have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff Like an eye between two white lids that will not shut. Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in. The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble, They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps, Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another, So it is impossible to tell how many there are. My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently. They bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep. Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage ---- My patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox, My husband and child smiling out of the family photo; Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks. I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat Stubbornly hanging on to my name and address. They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations. Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley I watched my teaset, my bureaus of linen, my books Sink out of sight, and the water went over my head. I am a nun now, I have never been so pure. I didn't want any flowers, I only wanted To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty. How free it is, you have no idea how free ---- The peacefulness is so big it dazes you, And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets. It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet. The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me. Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby. Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds. They are subtle: they seem to float, though they weigh me down, Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their colour, A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck. Nobody watched me before, now I am watched. The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins, And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips, And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself. The vivid tulips eat my oxygen. Before they came the air was calm enough, Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss. Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise. Now the air snags and eddies round them the way a river Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine. They concentrate my attention, that was happy Playing and resting without committing itself. The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves. The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals; They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat, And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me. The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea, And comes from a country far away as health. One night when I was in the middle years of high school I was staying overnight at a friends house and we were doing home work and smoking cigarettes and we had a poem we needed to have read for English the next day. It was Plath’s Tulips and it was insanely difficult – infinitely more difficult than perhaps is reasonable to expect two 16-year-old boys (or there-abouts) to read and understand. Anyway, we were science nerds and poetry was far too other-worldly for us. All the same, I was madly in love with my English teacher and was keen to impress by coming to some understanding of the poem. I remember we started reading it and could make no sense of it at all. So, we stopped and went through it line by line, stopping at the end of each line and talking about what it could all mean. It was a slog, but suddenly we started getting a sense of the woman in the poem being in hospital and then of all that blood. I have read this poem hundreds of times since that night. About ten years ago I decided that it ought to be read in much the same voice that you might read these lines from TS Eliot: My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me. 'Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak. 'What are you thinking of? What thinking? What? 'I never know what you are thinking. Think.' You know, neurotic. But I now think that is quite a wrong reading of the poem. I think the right reading (at least at the moment) is quite a straight and calm voice, but with a hint of perplexity in the tone, but only a hint, just enough to be detectable, and no more. Much the way Maggie Smith does Love Among the Lentils by Alan Bennett. If I was to give advice on coming to this poem for the first time – obviously you need to pay close attention to the relationship between the woman in the poem and the ‘others’ in the poem, all of the others, not least the tulips themselves. But also the nurses and the nuns and those who are implied as being there even if they never actually are. And then how often red and white are contrasted and how red on white is so often about blood in our culture and in this poem. And of course, water and all the things that water can signify. I love the way an act of love by someone (in sending tulips) can become like a series of hooks dug into the flesh of the person they are sent to. I love how peacefulness had previously meant avoiding being noticed and in becoming white and then the sudden redness of the tulips disturbs all that. How they stop being inanimate and become like wild animals needing to be put behind bars. I love how the tulips become the projection of this woman’s incredibly complex relationship with her husband and children. “They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations” and look at that word ‘associations’ – what a terribly important word that is. For that is what the tulips do not allow her – to remain clear of her associations. This is a complex poem and one that requires a careful study of the imagery and most important, a feeling for the music of the words on the page. It is, and has been for a very long time, one of my very favourite poems. Bird Brian has started a page here http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/2... of reviewers reading their reviews. This is my effort: http://soundcloud.com/tremcc/audio-re...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    A reread for me, because I wanted to read a new book of poetry that is in conversation with this one. This edition has some facsimile in the back of Sylvia's drafts, and some original versions that were of course edited by her husband. Lady Lazarus is still one of my favorite poems, with this final stanza (if I can use that for a poem): "Out of the ash I rise with my red hair And I eat men like air."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Roya

    Final rating: 3.5 stars Last May I went on a cruise to Alaska with my parents, brother, and grandfather. The book I was reading at the time was crap. Fortunately for me, there was this freaking cool library on the ship. I'm going to go off on bit of a tangent here, but I think it's kinda lame how a cruise ship has a library and the island I live on hasn't had one since I was eight. ...Anyway, moving away from my general bitterness, let's go back the library. So I picked up this cool book called The Final rating: 3.5 stars Last May I went on a cruise to Alaska with my parents, brother, and grandfather. The book I was reading at the time was crap. Fortunately for me, there was this freaking cool library on the ship. I'm going to go off on bit of a tangent here, but I think it's kinda lame how a cruise ship has a library and the island I live on hasn't had one since I was eight. ...Anyway, moving away from my general bitterness, let's go back the library. So I picked up this cool book called The Bell Jar. I enjoyed it so much that it became a favourite. Reading "Mad Girl's Love Song" made me more interested in Plath's poetry, so reading this was sort of bound to happen. This book was probably longer than it actually needed to be. All the poems in the first part are repeated in the second part, which is a facsimile of Plath's manuscript with all of her edits and scribblings. The first part is just like the second part, except it's corrected. A lot of the poems in this book honestly made no sense to me until I analysed them. Most caught my attention, but few held it. "The Jailor" and "A Birthday Present" were so interesting and made me want to know how they'd end. "Lady Lazarus" took me back to the first time I read "Mad Girl's Love Song", while "Daddy" is very resentful and gripping. I also adored "Lesbos", "Elm", and (in some ways) "Wintering". I don't think I'm really geared towards poetry, but Plath does an exceptional job even when you don't know what the hell she's going on about and have to add "analysis" to the end of every Google search. What can be said about this book is that it really sets a certain tone throughout. It's a bit dark and depressing, but simultaneously rich and full of emotion. You have to be in the right mood to read it, but it's never anything less than beautiful. I tend to only keep five-star books on my bookshelf, but despite its imperfections, this book had quite a few gems, so it's a keeper.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Florencia

    (view spoiler)[ First review Every time I don't love some book that other people love, I feel bad. Or stupid because I didn't understand it. Or a heartless gal because apparently I don't have a soul and that must be the reason why I'm not jumping up and down after reading it. I've always been interested in Plath's life, such an intense and tragic life. I read a bit about it and it seems like it's all there in her poetry. Her intimate, unsettling, honest poetry. So, I really liked a couple of poems (view spoiler)[ First review Every time I don't love some book that other people love, I feel bad. Or stupid because I didn't understand it. Or a heartless gal because apparently I don't have a soul and that must be the reason why I'm not jumping up and down after reading it. I've always been interested in Plath's life, such an intense and tragic life. I read a bit about it and it seems like it's all there in her poetry. Her intimate, unsettling, honest poetry. So, I really liked a couple of poems and the rest was okay. I'm not a fan yet, but it was a good read. Actual rating: 3.5 stars. Next step, "The Bell Jar" (I think I should have read that one first). Feb 05, 14 (hide spoiler)] * Also on my blog.

  6. 4 out of 5

    K. Elizabeth

    I thought her book, The Bell Jar, was much better than any of these poems. I almost wish she had been more of a novelist than a poet. Oh well. Either way, maybe two of these poems stuck out to me in a good way but then the rest were very strange and random. Honestly, I didn't connect to her poems the way I did with her novel, so that was a bummer. Overall, they're definitely poems to check out if you have time. But don't be expecting Emily Dickinson or anything like that, because you'll be disapp I thought her book, The Bell Jar, was much better than any of these poems. I almost wish she had been more of a novelist than a poet. Oh well. Either way, maybe two of these poems stuck out to me in a good way but then the rest were very strange and random. Honestly, I didn't connect to her poems the way I did with her novel, so that was a bummer. Overall, they're definitely poems to check out if you have time. But don't be expecting Emily Dickinson or anything like that, because you'll be disappointed.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Auguste

    Maybe when I first read Ariel, the originally published, Ted Hughes edition of the poems, I was too young to appreciate Plath's stunning vision; however, I'm inclined to think that her own layout of her swansong collection was the decisive factor in my recent reading of the work, which blew me away. So much substance - the words 'dark matter' come to mind - from a poet so young, it's rare, it's humbling. Being Greek, I can only think of Karyotakis's last collection, though Plath is a clearly sep Maybe when I first read Ariel, the originally published, Ted Hughes edition of the poems, I was too young to appreciate Plath's stunning vision; however, I'm inclined to think that her own layout of her swansong collection was the decisive factor in my recent reading of the work, which blew me away. So much substance - the words 'dark matter' come to mind - from a poet so young, it's rare, it's humbling. Being Greek, I can only think of Karyotakis's last collection, though Plath is a clearly seperate case, since self-destruction was to her more of a precise art, a science, almost. I urge readers, be they familiar with Plath or not, to give the Restored Edition a try. This book has brought considerable beauty into my life; it's one of those reads whose lingering feeling is that of a profound gratitude.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    There are two adjectives commonly applied to this book by people who haven't read it: it is often said to be a "feminist" book, and a "depressing" one. I think these two not-quite-accurate labels arise so frequently because Sylvia Plath is, unfortunately, better-known to the general public for being female and psychologically troubled than for being an accomplished poet. This is not an agenda-driven book, it is not a book aimed at only a select audience, and it is, above all, not a depressing boo There are two adjectives commonly applied to this book by people who haven't read it: it is often said to be a "feminist" book, and a "depressing" one. I think these two not-quite-accurate labels arise so frequently because Sylvia Plath is, unfortunately, better-known to the general public for being female and psychologically troubled than for being an accomplished poet. This is not an agenda-driven book, it is not a book aimed at only a select audience, and it is, above all, not a depressing book. "Ariel" contains poems of awe ("Morning Song"), poems of biting irony ("The Applicant"), and poems of exhilaration so intense that it blurs the line between wanting to live and wanting to die ("Ariel"), but in all of these poems Plath's fighting spirit is evident. The anger, the rage, the *bite* of the poems about her reaction to her husband's adultery seem to me to be the mark of someone who is fighting so hard to reclaim her life because she so desperately wants to live. These are *not* the poems of someone who has turned her face to the wall and resigned herself to defeat. "I am too pure for you or anyone," she asserts (with a defiant head-toss, perhaps) in one poem. In another poem, one that tells of a swarm of bees that kamikaze-attacked a man (to punish him for his "lies," it would seem), she says, "They thought death was worth it, but I/Have a self to recover, a queen." This "queen" of the bees is transparently a symbol for Plath's inner self, which had hitherto been lain dormant beneath the weighty tarps of depression, and it is described in language that is harrowingly alive, evoking metaphors of healing and resurrection: "Now she is flying/More terrible than she ever was, red/Scar in the sky, red comet/Over the engine that killed her--/The mausoleum, the wax house." In short, these are forcefully galloping, life-affirming poems. Just as some people lose their battles against cancer or other diseases, Plath ultimately lost her battle against depression, but these poems suggest that it wasn't for lack of trying. The final poem in this restored edition speaks of how the battle was a close one, whose outcome was still in question up until the very end: "This is the time of hanging on.... Will the hive survive, will the gladiolas/Succeed in banking their fires/To enter another year?/What will they taste of, the Christmas roses?/The bees are flying. They taste the spring."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    I gave it my all, but Plath's masterpiece just isn't for me. And, like Plath's poetry, it's a personal problem. The poems in Ariel are too obscure, too heady, too veiled—no one could ever accuse Plath of being too conscious of her audience. A woman always thinks she'll see her own pain in the words of another. The idea of Sylvia Plath is a perversely nice one to mull over, to play "I-saw-it-coming," to diminish her entire life to those few hours in her kitchen. Frieda Hughes' insightful forward I gave it my all, but Plath's masterpiece just isn't for me. And, like Plath's poetry, it's a personal problem. The poems in Ariel are too obscure, too heady, too veiled—no one could ever accuse Plath of being too conscious of her audience. A woman always thinks she'll see her own pain in the words of another. The idea of Sylvia Plath is a perversely nice one to mull over, to play "I-saw-it-coming," to diminish her entire life to those few hours in her kitchen. Frieda Hughes' insightful forward addresses this phenomenon. But don't get me wrong: Plath can write a devastating line, play masterfully with compounds, throw out appalling phrases with the bathwater. She's at her best when she's frantic and flying ("Getting There," "Daddy"). But she lacks a certain artistry, the kind of assured rhythm I love in poets like Gwendolyn Brooks and Louise Glück. I don't mean to make meaningless comparisons; it's just that my background in poetry is elementary. But Sylvia is a complete cypher, the brainy, silent girl in the back of the room, and as much as she intrigues me, I can't know her. She speaks purposefully esoterically, and all it does is cast a wash of contextless melodrama over her ultimately style-free poetry (the embodiment of what I mean is the poem "The Other"—yes, I know what it's about). And while the exterior expression of her interior consciousness is beautiful for Plath, it just doesn't do a lot for me. Because that's what I demand in poetry: me, me, me.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elaine Mullane || At Home in Books

    Sylvia Plath is one of my favourite writers and Ariel one of my favourite collections of poetry. "Dying is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well". The poems in this collection are largely dominated by the themes of sadness, suicide and death, which doesn't make for happy reading by any means, but I am always blown away by the sheer power and haunting nature of Plath's words. With poetry being one of the (if not the) most personal forms of expression, we can read the poems in Sylvia Plath is one of my favourite writers and Ariel one of my favourite collections of poetry. "Dying is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well". The poems in this collection are largely dominated by the themes of sadness, suicide and death, which doesn't make for happy reading by any means, but I am always blown away by the sheer power and haunting nature of Plath's words. With poetry being one of the (if not the) most personal forms of expression, we can read the poems in Ariel as a fascinating look inside the mind of Plath. Given that she chose to end her life soon after these poems were written and compiled, we can assume that, devastatingly, feelings of sadness and thoughts of death were in the forefront of her mind at this time, and this certainly comes through in the range of poems. I am a huge fan of Plath and it would be impossible for me to discuss all of the poems I love in this collection, as I truly do love them all. I find such beauty in her words, even when she is writing about the brutality and sheer horridness of life. There is a deep and profound sadness in the beauty she writes about. I find it to be both fascinating and genius. Some highlights, for me: the famous "Daddy", "Lady Lazarus", "Elm", "Ariel", "Medusa", "Wintering".

  11. 4 out of 5

    Wes Zickau

    I've been having trouble organizing my thoughts and reactions to Plath, so here's a list in no particular order of some things that I wondered while reading Ariel. To all you Plathers: please understand that I respect Plath as a poet, that my rating reflects my limited perception of her work, and that I'm well aware of the subjectivity of taste. However... 1. What exactly is so great about Sylvia Plath? I don't mean that sarcastically, I mean what are Sylvia Plath's literary innovations, her cred I've been having trouble organizing my thoughts and reactions to Plath, so here's a list in no particular order of some things that I wondered while reading Ariel. To all you Plathers: please understand that I respect Plath as a poet, that my rating reflects my limited perception of her work, and that I'm well aware of the subjectivity of taste. However... 1. What exactly is so great about Sylvia Plath? I don't mean that sarcastically, I mean what are Sylvia Plath's literary innovations, her credentials for being referred to as great? Formal invention? Subject matter? What is it? Ezra Pound is great because he initiated a literary paradigm shift from stodgy Victorian poetry to something fresh and exciting and new. Chaucer is great because of his uncanny command of Middle English and his diverse influence on other great writers (Pound himself being one of them). How did Plath make poetry new? More importantly: did she? I don't see much in terms of traditional forms in the book (sonnets, sestinas, and the like), and much of the book is —or appears to be— free verse. However, I think there are other poets who can write much better free verse than Plath (Pound, H.D., Eliot, Ashbery, Jarrell, and the like). So, in terms of craft, how is Plath great? Why should we read her? 2. Many people, but especially Americans like myself, have an obsession with the role of the Artist Martyr, a young soul full of tortured creativity who dies a tragic death, leaving us wondering what works they might have produced had they lived longer (looking at you, Jimi). To me, Plath's psychological problems and her untimely, disturbing death has shrouded her work in a sort of perceived mystery and haunting power. Or rather I should say that Plath fans have intentionally shrouded her work with such a facade. Quite frankly, I don't get it. What if Plath had lived a long, healthy life? Would this influence the way we read her work? Should it? 3. I keep hearing that one shouldn't write about love or death. This is ridiculous. I think one can write about either, so long as the writing is excellent, original, innovative in some capacity. Plath writes frequently about death, but does so in a way that I found unforgettably boring, which is quite ironic considering the realities of her life. Her work on death sometimes borders a juvenile obsession, like a teenager first coming to grips with her own mortality, but having little of substance to say about the whole experience. 4. Plath's work seemed to me more cerebral than aortic, more about the mind and its strangeness than anything else of human experience. That's fine. And perhaps this explains some of her style. Is she deliberately trying to disorient the reader, to use her art to imitate psychological instability? I like this idea. I like it because it provides some validation of her form, her voice, her unusual juxtaposition of images. But why then, when finishing each and every poem, did I feel nothing, think nothing, save for a vague suspicion that I had just wasted a bunch of time? Perhaps I'm just uncultured and uninitiated? 5. When I read something that resonates with me, it resonates with me because I learned something, and not just about the story or the characters or the craft of writing. All that's great. But it resonated with me because I learned something about myself. When I finished this book, I spent a few days mulling it over. I realized I had learned nothing, taken nothing away from Plath's work that informed my perception of myself or others, didn't provoke new ideas or explore emotional depths. The whole experience felt flat and lifeless, disconnected, incoherent and, I admit, rather irritating.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)

    The poems in this collection are seething and uncompromising. Plath's use of color fascinates me, and reading these sparkling, corrosive poems aloud makes your tongue and ear dance. But being completely honest, I found a lot of them impenetrable without research. I just had absolutely no idea what was going on, and so couldn't remember most of them after I'd turned the page (with some notable exceptions like "Lady Lazarus"). I'm left with a lot of internal questions about the place of biography, The poems in this collection are seething and uncompromising. Plath's use of color fascinates me, and reading these sparkling, corrosive poems aloud makes your tongue and ear dance. But being completely honest, I found a lot of them impenetrable without research. I just had absolutely no idea what was going on, and so couldn't remember most of them after I'd turned the page (with some notable exceptions like "Lady Lazarus"). I'm left with a lot of internal questions about the place of biography, intention, and writer/reader communication in poetry.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tess Taylor

    5- I'm so glad I chose to read The Restored Edition of Ariel. I loved the versatility of this collection! There are two copies of each poem; The first contains some annotations via Ted Hughes, the second were reproductions taken directly from Plath's typewritten editions. There is also a lot of extra content, like notes Sylvia made on some of the more well-known poems in Ariel. This made for a very interactive read! I found myself moving backward and forward through the book, reading each poem m 5- I'm so glad I chose to read The Restored Edition of Ariel. I loved the versatility of this collection! There are two copies of each poem; The first contains some annotations via Ted Hughes, the second were reproductions taken directly from Plath's typewritten editions. There is also a lot of extra content, like notes Sylvia made on some of the more well-known poems in Ariel. This made for a very interactive read! I found myself moving backward and forward through the book, reading each poem multiple times, checking for annotations and differences in the texts. But even beyond the edition of the book, Ariel is an absolutely stunning collection of poems. I am not usually a big fan of poetry, but Plath's work is truly admirable. She is at once macabre, tender, and honest. I'm not saying that I understood all of the content in Ariel by any means, but that is one of the things I loved about it. I'm sure this book is one I will continue to pull down and reread for years to come.

  14. 5 out of 5

    M. Sarki

    https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/152019... In this "Restored Edition" of Sylvia Plath's most famous work there is a foreword by her daughter Frieda Hughes that kindly takes the view that her father was not at all that bad, but that her mother's poems in their original order and verse were somewhat better. Having not read the original Ariel, I am not one to compare, but it makes complete sense to me, and something that should have been done long ago. The idea that Ted Hughes edited and arranged the https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/152019... In this "Restored Edition" of Sylvia Plath's most famous work there is a foreword by her daughter Frieda Hughes that kindly takes the view that her father was not at all that bad, but that her mother's poems in their original order and verse were somewhat better. Having not read the original Ariel, I am not one to compare, but it makes complete sense to me, and something that should have been done long ago. The idea that Ted Hughes edited and arranged the original Ariel is flabbergasting at best, especially in light of the fact that Plath quit allowing the philandering Hughes to even look at her poems while they were separated. But what can you do when you are still married to someone and accidentally kill yourself? Had she known her suicide attempt would work, that her landlord would fall asleep too, my bet is she would have left implicit instructions for her manuscript. Ay least Frieda felt the final placement of her work on her table implicit enough that she felt the personal need to make her mother's work right again. And I say good for her. After reading a piece about Plath written by Al Álvarez in his book The Savage God: A Study of Suicide, I was slightly hooked on this fascinating woman and therefore needed to learn more about her as a poet. I then procured an old sixty minute PBS video of Plath's life story and listened to her actual voice. What interested me the most was her need to read aloud her poems at the end of her short life. Alvarez states in his Plath biography that she felt her latest work had to be heard as well as read. It is entirely true that Sylvia Plath was writing her very best poems in this last year of her life. As a whole, Ariel fails for me as a great book of poetry, but it does have some remarkable poems in it. For example: Getting There How far is it? How far is it now? The gigantic gorilla interior Of the wheels move, they appall me --- The terrible brains Of Krupp, black muzzles Revolving, the sound Punching out Absence! Like cannon. It is Russia I have to get across, it is some was or other. I am dragging my body Quietly through the straw of the boxcars. Now is the time for bribery. What do wheels eat, these wheels Fixed to their arcs like gods, The silver leash of the will ---- Inexorable. And their pride! All the gods know destinations. I am a letter in this slot! I fly to a name, two eyes. Will there be fire, will there be bread? Here there is such mud. It is a trainstop, the nurses Undergoing the faucet water, its veils, veils in a nunnery, Touching their wounded, The men the blood still pumps forward, Legs, arms piled outside The tent of unending cries ---- A hospital of dolls. And the men, what is left of the men Pumped ahead by these pistons, this blood Into the next mile, The next hour ---- Dynasty of broken arrows! How far is it? There is mud on my feet, Thick, red and slipping. It is Adam's side, This earth I rise from, and I in agony. I cannot undo myself, and the train is steaming. Steaming and breathing, its teeth Ready to roll, like a devil's. There is a minute at the end of it A minute, a dewdrop. How far is it? It is so small The place I am getting to, why are there these obstacles ---- The body of this woman, Charred skirts and deathmask Mourned by religious figures, by garlanded children. And now detonations ---- Thunder and guns. The fire's between us. Is there no place Turning and turning in the middle air, Untouchable and untouchable. The train is dragging itself, it is screaming ---- An animal Insane for the destination, The bloodspot, The face at the end of the flare. I shall bury the wounded like pupas, I shall count and bury the dead. Let their souls writhe in like dew, Incense in my track. The carriages rock, they are cradles. And I, stepping from this skin Of old bandages, boredoms, old faces Step up to you from the black car of Lethe, Pure as a baby. It is quite obvious to anyone reading this poem that her power was amazingly strong, her force driving home the words she chose to make their mark on us, and she, the victor in a battle that could never be won except on her terms. There were three specific poems in Ariel that struck me as something from an other world, that spoke to me in a voice I not only understood but crave myself to have. Medusa Off that landspit of stony mouth-plugs, Eyes rolled by white sticks, Ears cupping the sea's incoherences, You house your unnerving head -- God-ball, Lens of mercies, Your stooges Plying their wild cells in my keel's shadow, Pushing by like hearts, Red stigmata at the very center, Riding the rip tide to the nearest point of departure, Dragging their Jesus hair. Did I escape, I wonder? My mind winds to you Old barnacled umbilicus, Atlantic cable, Keeping itself, it seems, in a state of miraculous repair. In any case, you are always there, Tremulous breath at the end of my line, Curve of water upleaping To my water rod, dazzling and grateful, Touching and sucking. I didn't call you. I didn't call you at all. Nevertheless, nevertheless You steamed to me over the sea, Fat and red, a placenta Paralyzing the kicking lovers. Cobra light Squeezing the breath from the blood bells Of the fuchsia. I could draw no breath, Dead and moneyless, Overexposed, like an X-ray. Who do you think you are? A Communion wafer? Blubbery Mary? I shall take no bite of your body, Bottle in which I live, Ghastly Vatican. I am sick to death of hot salt. Green as eunuchs, your wishes Hiss at my sins. Off, off, eely tentacle! There is nothing between us. Another obvious point I need to make is the difficulty Sylvia Plath would have naturally had with a tyrannical editor the likes of Gordon Lish. He would have been very hard on her as most of her poems are too soft, too easy, and he would have made her go back and labor hard at improving most of them, and some to no avail. My bet is, Lish just would not have accepted them for publication. But these three fine poems I have included in this criticism and praise of Sylvia Plath I bet he would have liked, and perhaps have offered little to no suggestion as how to improve them. They are that good. The last poem I will leave with you from this restored Ariel collection was obviously written in a state of acceptance, albeit not the way she wanted things to be. Things are what they are, however, and this poem presents the "thing" in a very powerful way and with great distinction. The reader is hard-pressed these days to find a poet the likes of Sylvia Plath. The Rival If the moon smiled, she would resemble you. You leave the same impression Of something beautiful, but annihilating. Both of you are great light borrowers. Her O-mouth grieves at the world; yours is unaffected, And your first gift is making stone out of everything. I wake to a mausoleum; you are here, Ticking your fingers on the marble table, looking for cigarettes, Spiteful as a woman, but not so nervous, And dying to say something unanswerable. The moon, too, abuses her subjects, But in the daytime she is ridiculous. Your dissatisfactions, on the other hand, Arrive through the mailslot with loving regularity, White and blank, expansive as carbon monoxide. No day is safe from news of you, Walking about in Africa maybe, but thinking of me.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    I don't begin to pretend I understood all of these poems, or all of any one of them. But I love them...the sounds, the images. The fierceness often takes my breath away. Her images of the ordinary life of a mother contrasts with the violence, the hooks, the hisses, the shrieks, the worms. More than this, tho, THIS edition has restored Plath's original plan for her collection. Her suicide meant Ted Hughes controlled the editorial decisions for publication and he did not follow her wishes. Another I don't begin to pretend I understood all of these poems, or all of any one of them. But I love them...the sounds, the images. The fierceness often takes my breath away. Her images of the ordinary life of a mother contrasts with the violence, the hooks, the hisses, the shrieks, the worms. More than this, tho, THIS edition has restored Plath's original plan for her collection. Her suicide meant Ted Hughes controlled the editorial decisions for publication and he did not follow her wishes. Another reason this edition is so special is the forward and interviews with Plath's and Hughes's daughter, Frieda. She tells such a different tale about her famous parents than we have spun in our own imaginations. She tells of a loving father who worked to keep the memory of Sylvia fresh in the minds and hearts of her motherless children. Frieda even includes one of her own poems that echoes lines from her mother's work. Pieces I especially loved: 'Morning Song' 'The Applicant' 'Lady Lazarus' 'Tulips' 'The Jailor' 'Letter in November' 'Wintering' and the similes in 'You're' Lines that resonate for me: “The wind gagging my mouth with my own hair” “The moon lays a hand on my forehead/Blank-faces and mum as a nurse” “Dying is an art, like everything else/I do it exceptionally well” “The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here” “I am myself. That is not enough” “…the train shrieks echo like souls on hooks” “Loveless as the multiplication tables” “Viciousness in the kitchen/The potatoes hiss” “The courage of the shut mouth, in spite of artillery.” “Your wishes/Hiss at my sins.” “Your dissatisfactions…/arrive through the mailslot with loving regularity” "Winter is for women."

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Ra

    If all poetry strives to defy expectations, Plath certainly is the nemesis of clichés. The readers of her work incessantly find themselves in breathless astonishment because of the explosive language, the surprising imageries, and the immense honesty with which she unveils her personal events and emotions (though I cannot stress enough the importance of not letting what you might have already heard about her life constrain your interpretation of her poems). This collection shows Plath at her bes If all poetry strives to defy expectations, Plath certainly is the nemesis of clichés. The readers of her work incessantly find themselves in breathless astonishment because of the explosive language, the surprising imageries, and the immense honesty with which she unveils her personal events and emotions (though I cannot stress enough the importance of not letting what you might have already heard about her life constrain your interpretation of her poems). This collection shows Plath at her best, allowing her death instinct to fully exert its creative force, weaving a tale out of thin air that is at once brutal and transcendental. On occasions, vengeful and unforgiving, her poetry traverses into the territory of neglected and disdained emotions from which many have abstained, yet exactly such courage makes her a compelling figure, as she has memorialized even the darker sides of life. Although her perfectionist tendencies and unfortunate circumstances drove her to self-destruct, her poetry resounds authoritatively with an urge for life, rather than death, and her struggle to rediscover its beauty by any means possible. The Restored Edition affirms this most undeniably by placing the poems in their original order, according to which the collection starts with “love” and ends with “spring.”

  17. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Ariel... what we lost when we lost Sylvia Plath. That ferocity. She wrote these poems in a frenzy of creativity, a firestorm of the need to be understood, the need to explicate personal truth, here about the horror of existence--which can be a stronger urge than the urge to live. Ariel is not only the spirit in The Tempest, but a horse who ran away with her. What is that plunging power that is beyond her control? Beautiful, chilling, unarguable.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    2017 reread: I studied this book in my junior year in high school for a Dual Enrollment English class. That was in 2014. I've been reading it again over this year in bits and pieces without actually adding it here. So here we go. I loved studying Sylvia Plath and I have a great appreciation for her work.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    I can hardly contain in words my adoration of this book. Plath brought me to poetry--both the reading and the writing of it, so I will always carry that debt to her. I have to say up front that I'm rather weary of hearing how 'dark' and 'melodramatic' this collection is--there's a pathologization of Plath and her readers that seems almost presupposed in any discussion of her work. It's an easy way to make dismissals--but I think far fewer people realize what an incredibly precise, metaphorically I can hardly contain in words my adoration of this book. Plath brought me to poetry--both the reading and the writing of it, so I will always carry that debt to her. I have to say up front that I'm rather weary of hearing how 'dark' and 'melodramatic' this collection is--there's a pathologization of Plath and her readers that seems almost presupposed in any discussion of her work. It's an easy way to make dismissals--but I think far fewer people realize what an incredibly precise, metaphorically skilled, and witty writer Plath was. There's of course much moroseness here, but people tend to forget some of the incredible humor. See 'The Applicant' or 'A Secret,' where the speaker suggests her husband stuff his lover's lingerie with apple cloves because it "smells of salt cod"; or this wonderful passage from 'Stopped Dead': "We're here on a visit, / with a goddamn baby screaming off somewhere. / There's always a bloody baby in the air. / I'd call it a sunset, but / whoever heard a sunset yowl like that?" Or what of the tenderness of poems like 'Nick and the Candlestick' where she addresses her child by remarking that "You are the one solid the spaces lean on. / You are the baby in the barn"? Or 'Morning Song,' where the speaker becomes utterly fascinated with her infant's developing language: "now you try / your handful of notes; / the clear vowels rise like balloons." And the Restored Edition of Ariel, of course, ends on the bee sequence rather than on 'Words' and 'Edge,' and the message becomes one of regeneration rather than of suicidal erasure. Of course there's darkness. And by suggesting we remember other facets of the collection, I do not wish to negate the power of the monstrous, the suicidal, the bleak, the stunning violence of this book. Plath's poems, to my mind, notoriously exclude the other--there's no breathing room for two figures in her work; someone simply must be annihilated. (Excepting, perhaps, some of the motherhood poems, like 'Nick' and 'Morning Song.') Sometimes this transpires in the tearing apart of the self--the infamous 'Lady Lazarus' does this beautifully. At other moments, the speaker of the poems becomes the woman-monster of Dickinson's 'Dare You See a Soul at the White Heat?'--see 'Purdah,' 'Fever 103,' 'Lady Lazarus' again ("I eat men like air"), 'Ariel,' and 'A Birthday Present.' At times, the speaker is murdered by a terrible force, as with 'Tulips' or 'The Rabbit Catcher'; at others, as in 'Daddy' and 'Medusa,' the speaker's murderous impulse backfires and takes her out in its wake. What Plath does, I think in a way that no one else quite manages (excepting Anne Sexton, at times), is capture the surreality of modern existence--particularly in the domestic sphere and under the reducing chamber of the nuclear family--by way of violent mythmaking. If Anne Sexton takes the world around her--including fairytales, legends, and biblical texts--and brings them into the most private of spaces, Plath takes the most minute of experiences and transforms them into myth. I can't compel anyone to like Plath, or to respect her; but her poetry haunts and inspires me persistently, and of course I'd like to share that as much as is possible. Forget the cultural baggage hanging all around her; read the book and come to your own conclusion. Love it or hate it, the experience alone will be worth it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Fenia

    Love it ♥ Sylvia's poetry just speaks to me :)

  21. 5 out of 5

    kippen (uponthepages)

    3.5??? I’m kind of disappointed

  22. 4 out of 5

    Selma

    A very strong collection but just not my type. Also not very easy to read, I’ve had trouble understanding most of it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    But_i_thought_

    Reading poetry has always felt like futile detective work for me, so I was pleasantly surprised by the impact this collection had on me! “Ariel”, Sylvia Plath’s most famous poetry collection, was written in a “blood jet” of creativity shortly before she committed suicide in 1963. The collection charts her emotional turmoil in the wake of her disintegrating marriage, the claustrophobic effects of domesticity, the salve of motherhood, and her conflicting attractions to both rebirth and self-destru Reading poetry has always felt like futile detective work for me, so I was pleasantly surprised by the impact this collection had on me! “Ariel”, Sylvia Plath’s most famous poetry collection, was written in a “blood jet” of creativity shortly before she committed suicide in 1963. The collection charts her emotional turmoil in the wake of her disintegrating marriage, the claustrophobic effects of domesticity, the salve of motherhood, and her conflicting attractions to both rebirth and self-destruction. After her death, her husband Ted Hughes became the curator of the (unpublished) Ariel poems and unfortunately “sanitized” the collection by removing what he deemed “confrontational” poems and replacing them with other “less offensive” poems. These missing poems, released in later collections, included those that portrayed him in a negative light (e.g. “The Jailer”, “The Rabbit Catcher”), commented on his infidelity (e.g. “A Secret”, “The Other”, “The Detective”), or insulted acquaintances of the couple (e.g. “Lesbos”). This restored edition (published recently in 2004) for the first time reinstates Plath’s original arrangement. I personally found the “missing” poems to be some of the most raw and evocative of the lot. For example, in “The Rabbit Catcher”, Plath describes a windy walk in the wild in which she comes across rabbit snares and imagines the game keeper waiting with almost sexual anticipation for the death of his prey. The symbol of the rabbit snares evolves into a metaphor for her marriage towards the end of the poem: And we too had a relationship - Tight wires between us, Pegs too deep to uproot, and a mind like a ring Sliding shut on some quick thing, The constriction killing me also. In another poem, "The Courage of Shutting-Up", Plath describes the trauma of public silence on her husband's affair. Her tongue is compared to a relic that has been dried and hung up, like taxidermy, and she likens this state of forced silence to that of: A country no longer heard of, An obstinate independency Insolvent among the mountains. Many of the poems in this collection crackle with vivid, inventive imagery, explosive symbolism and memorable opening lines (e.g. My night sweats grease his breakfast plate as the opening to “The Jailor”). While reading, I could easily spend an entire evening dissecting a single poem, mining the various layers of meaning and supplementing with online research. Overall, this was a moving, unsettling and illuminating reading experience, well worth the effort, and highly recommended, even for poetry virgins like me. Mood: Melancholy and hopeful to equal degrees Rating: 9/10 Also on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bg0ZzlznP...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tortla

    Plath did some nice stuff with words. But she was a bit of a drama queen. It was pretty nifty to see her original manuscript and get her daughter's perspective on both it and her drama-queen-ness (and a defense of the husband who re-arranged the original manuscript). So: overall interesting insight into Plath and Plath family drama. And many of the poems are clever and interesting and carefully-constructed to sound and look a particular Plath-y way. But reading the whole book of poetry inspired s Plath did some nice stuff with words. But she was a bit of a drama queen. It was pretty nifty to see her original manuscript and get her daughter's perspective on both it and her drama-queen-ness (and a defense of the husband who re-arranged the original manuscript). So: overall interesting insight into Plath and Plath family drama. And many of the poems are clever and interesting and carefully-constructed to sound and look a particular Plath-y way. But reading the whole book of poetry inspired some eye-rolling due to how seriously Plath can take her personal problems.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Julia Gordon-Bramer

    I laughed at Goodreads' comment, "Date I finished this book," as I am never finished with it. Ariel and Ariel: The Restored Edition mean so much to me that I have devoted the last eight years to studying it, as I discovered its correlation to tarot and the Qabalah. It became Fixed Stars Govern a Life: Decoding Sylvia Plath (2015, Stephen F. Austin State U Press). You can read the introduction and first chapter here: https://www.academia.edu/10659711/Exc... or, visit www.fixedstarsgovernalife.com I laughed at Goodreads' comment, "Date I finished this book," as I am never finished with it. Ariel and Ariel: The Restored Edition mean so much to me that I have devoted the last eight years to studying it, as I discovered its correlation to tarot and the Qabalah. It became Fixed Stars Govern a Life: Decoding Sylvia Plath (2015, Stephen F. Austin State U Press). You can read the introduction and first chapter here: https://www.academia.edu/10659711/Exc... or, visit www.fixedstarsgovernalife.com for more information.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nick Black

    A beautiful (if controversial) setting of Plath's last and largely greatest poems, and thus some of the 20th century's finest English -- there's no excuse to be anything but intimately familiar with the words herein. Furthermore, memorizing swaths of these poems was directly responsible for getting laid any number of times in college. If it worked for me at Georgia F'n Tech, it can work for you!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Steph

    I'm not a big fan of reading poetry but I find Sylvia Plath endlessly fascinating so I picked this up. I was surprised to find that I found reading it incredibly enjoyable. I intend to purchase it for my own collection because these are poems that make you want to read them again and again. It has even inspired me to branch out into reading work from other poets as well.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Petra

    Ariel is definitely still my favourite poetry collection of all the time despite dropping the rating but I don't feel the same connection towards the collection as I did as a teenager. Plath's madness and darkness were things that resonated me as depressed teenager and while I still think this collection has some of the best poems I have ever read (Lady Lazarus, Daddy etc) I don't think it is one of my absolute favourite books. Some of the poems have so many levels that they unfortunately stay u Ariel is definitely still my favourite poetry collection of all the time despite dropping the rating but I don't feel the same connection towards the collection as I did as a teenager. Plath's madness and darkness were things that resonated me as depressed teenager and while I still think this collection has some of the best poems I have ever read (Lady Lazarus, Daddy etc) I don't think it is one of my absolute favourite books. Some of the poems have so many levels that they unfortunately stay unraveled to me. I look at Plath with new eyes now and while it doesn't make her any less as a poet, I just don't find the same connection with the collection as a whole. It might seem sad but I am also glad that I have gone through the phase and can happily say that I don't relate to the presence of madness and death in Ariel the same way I did as teenager.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    there was a vegan who did too much cocaine in my intro poetry class who wrote all of her poetry like this with titles such as “porcelain” and “doll house” and it really turned me off of this source material.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bradley Hankins

    One of the best poets to ever have been loved by a pen. My personal favorite was “Elm”. I also loved the fact that Plath’s daughter, Frieda, wrote the foreword and included a poem she wrote about the film “Sylvia” and how society kills her mother over and over again.

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