Slyvia Plath (1932 to 1963, Boston, USA) is an iconic cultural figure. I should have read her only novel, The Bell Jar long ago. I was very happy a few days ago to receive an e-mail advising me a Kindle edition was recently released at the promotional price of $2.95. Of course I have basic understanding of the life of Plath and the subject matter of The Bell Jar picked up in book blog posts over the last five years. As I read the novel I was brought to mind the marvelous Irish writer Maeve Brennan who worked and wrote for The New Yorker for years before being taken over by a life destroying mental illness. I will here just talk briefly about some of the things about the novel that struck me on first reading.
The novel, narrated by a woman about twenty working as an intern along with a number of other college age women as interns on a fashion magazine in New York City is an amazing tale of mental turmoil. As the work opens, the narrator is bubbly and excited if a bit scared of life in the big city. As I read I kept looking for the factors that would push the narrator into a mental hospital. I have my theories of course. The descriptions of life in the mental hospital are amazing, especially the barbaric shock treatments.
Plath does an amazing job of letting us see into the mind of the narrator. The transitions in the prose styles were masterful.
This book is a classic. I see it as a very American book. I am so glad I at last have read The Bell Jar.