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Ariel: The Restored Edition: A Facsimile of Plath's Manuscript, Reinstating Her Original Selection and Arrangement (P.S.) Paperback – October 25, 2005


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Product Details

  • Series: P.S.
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reprint edition (October 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060732601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060732608
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Sylvia Plath churned out her final poems at the remarkable rate of two or three a day, and Robert Lowell describes them as written by "hardly a person at all ... but one of those super-real, hypnotic, great classical heroines." Even more remarkable, she wrote them during one of the coldest, snowiest winters (1962-63) Londoners have ever known. Snowbound, without central heating, she and her two children spent much of their time sniffling, coughing, or running temperatures (In "Fever 103°" she writes, "I have been flickering, off, on, off on. / The sheets grow heavy as a lecher's kiss."). Pipes froze, lights failed, and candles were unobtainable.

As if these physical privations weren't enough, Plath was out in the cold in another sense--her husband, Ted Hughes, had left her for another woman earlier that year. Despite all this (or perhaps because of it), the Ariel poems dazzle with their lyricism, their surprising and vivid imagery, and their wit. Rather than confining herself to her bleak surroundings, Plath draws from a wide array of experience. In "Berck-Plage," for instance, clouds are "electrifyingly-coloured sherbets, scooped from the freeze." In "The Night Dances," the poet stands crib-side, reveling in her son's own brand of do-si-do: "Such pure leaps and spirals--Surely they travel / The world forever, I shall not entirely / Sit emptied of beauties, the gift / Of your small breath..."

Though at times they present the reader with hopelessness laid bare, these poems also teem with the brightest shards of a life, confounding those who merely look for the words of a gloomy, dispassionate suicide. Plath rose each morning in the final months of her life to "that still blue, almost eternal hour before the baby's cry" and left us these words like "axes/After whose stroke the wood rings..." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Along with withholding (or allegedly destroying) one of Plath’s journals after her death in 1963, Plath’s husband, the late English poet laureate Ted Hughes, brought out a version of her second and final book of poems, Ariel, that differed from the manuscript she left on her desk. That edition—for which Hughes dropped 12 poems, added 12 composed a few months later, shifted the poems’ ordering and included an introduction by Robert Lowell—has become a classic. The present edition restores the 12 missing poems, drops the 12 added ones, and prints the manuscript in Plath’s own order, followed by a facsimile of the typescript Plath left, along with a foreword by Plath and Hughes’s daughter Frieda Hughes (Wooroloo), several hand- and typewritten drafts of the book’s title poem and notes by David Semanki. The original manuscript’s contents have been widely known since Hughes published them in the 1981 Collected Poems, but there is an undeniable thrill to reading Plath’s book as she left it—the lacerating "The Rabbit Catcher," left out of the Ted Hughes edition, comes third here, with its rhyme of "force" with "gorse," the flowers of which "had an efficiency, a great beauty,/ And were extravagant, like torture." As to whether this version is a better book, only time will tell. For now, despite Frieda Hughes’s repeated references to her father’s respect for Plath’s work, tally another shot in the Plath wars.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Sylvia Plath was born in 1932 in Massachusetts. Her books include the poetry collections The Colossus, Crossing the Water, Winter Trees, Ariel, and The Collected Poems, which won the Pulitzer Prize. Plath is credited with being a pioneer of the 20th-century style of writing called confessional poetry. Her poem "Daddy" is one of the best-known examples of this genre.

In 1963, Plath's semi-autobiographic novel The Bell Jar was published under the pseudonym "Victoria Lucas"; it was reissued in 1966 under her own name. A complete and uncut facsimile edition of Ariel was published in 2004 with her original selection and arrangement of poems. She was married to the poet Ted Hughes, with whom she had a daughter, Frieda, and a son, Nicholas. She died in London in 1963.

Customer Reviews

This is some of the best poetry I've ever read.
w.s.
The poems are beautiful and the reader gets a sense of staring into the heart and soul of a tortured poet.
Christopher Barrett
Ariel is a collection of the last poems Sylvia Plath ever wrote.
"neeterskeeter27"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on November 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Now at long last, we get the "Ariel" we deserve. Plath's admirers have been waiting a long time, since at least the early 1980s when Ted Hughes first revealed that he had changed the order of the poems in his wife's final manuscript. He had added some poems--the final, freezingly depressing ones--and then re-arranaged the bulk of the book to leave an impression of a woman gone over the brink into a chilling fugue state. Now Frieda Hughes, Plath's daughter, 2 when her mother killed herself, has performed a ritual act of atonement to her mother's memory, and given us the original, "happy" (relatively speaking) ARIEL which we have never been able to see.

At $24,95, the book's a little expensive, but it feels as though money had been spent on its planning and execution, so you don't feel rooked. In one section, the gray paper on which the facsimile materials are printed is easy on the eyes, aiding the eye as it struggles with Plath's numerous emendations. We get the notes Plath wrote for her own use when she had to do that reading at the BBC towards the end, the more-British-than-thou reading we have grown to love and hate at the same time. Frieda Hughes contributes an interesting and contextualizing introduction in which she seeks to reconcile the differing viewpoints of her mother and father--a challenging task, but she's up to it. The book ends up with four of the bee-keeping poems--and another in the appendix, "The Swarm," which Sylvia kept changing her mind about including. Should she leave it in? Take it out? The title is in brackets. Thus the book ends with a hopeful note, with the freshness of Devon instead of the bleak London winter. It ends, pleasantly enough, with the words, "They taste the spring."
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By "neeterskeeter27" on November 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Ariel is a collection of the last poems Sylvia Plath ever wrote. Furthermore, the poems were written during the last months of her life, which were very bleak months indeed. Plath's husband, Ted Hughes, had just left her for another woman, and she was left to watch over her two young children in the middle of a freezing cold winter in a small apartment that was not heated. Because of these circumstances, a lot of the poems included in "Ariel" are depressing; however, the poems are also strikingly beautiful. They show the human condition at its absolute lowest point: hopeless, stark, terrifying.
Plath eventually ends her life by commiting suicide in a dramatic way: sticking her head in an oven and leaving it there. It was her third suicide attempt, and the other two were pretty dramatic as well. Plath addresses these suicide attempts, and how it felt to survive the other two, in one of her most famous poems from Ariel, "Lady Lazarus": "I have done it again./ One year in every ten/ I manage it-/ A sort of walking miracle/ my skin Bright as a Nazi lampshade.../ And I a smiling woman/ am only thirty./ And like the cat I have nine times to die./ This is Number Three./ What a trash/ To annihilate each decade.../ Dying Is an art,/ like everything else/I do it exceptionally well./ Herr God, Herr Lucifer Beware/ Beware./ Out of the ash/ I rise with my red hair/ And I eat men like air."
The Nazi theme continues in Plath's poem "Daddy", in which she accuses her father of being similar to Hitler, and compares her husband to her father as well, writing about how they both had negative influences in her life. "I have always been sacred of you,/ With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo./ And your neat mustache/ And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
These poems are scathing and beautiful. It is not a long work, but it requires multiple readings to break into its core. A greatly UNDERrated work that should have won the Pulitzer, I think "Ariel" stands alone much stronger than her Collected Poems, which actually DID win the Pulitzer. The emotions are huge and fiery, and the language is second to none. Plath has an ear for music in language, and shows it wonderfully in "Lady Lazarus," "Daddy," "Fever 103," and "Ariel," where she rides her horse into "the red eye, the cauldren of morning." Brilliant work by a sometimes misinterpreted and mis-categorized writer. Don't read it to wallow in depression-- read it to hear a unique and truly gifted voice. Brava, Sylvia Plath! Your time came too soon.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kay Rivera on December 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
"I am writing the best poems of my life... They will make my name." --Sylvia Plath, on the Ariel poems
It is a pity that Sylvia Plath is so underestimated--most people I know have never heard of her, and those who have dismiss her as an angry feminist who committed suicide. It is a sacrilege to sum up her person so: Plath is one of the most important poets of our century, and Ariel her most important work.
In it one can find the famous poems "Daddy", in which Plath shakes loose her restraints on her resentment for her father, who died when she was young: "At twenty I tried to die/ And get back, back, back to you... But they pulled me out of the sack / And they stuck me together with glue." ; "Lady Lazarus", a commentary of death and disappointment, which reflects her situation with terrible lyricism; and "Fever 103°", which, to me, is almost mocking; and "Ariel", after which the collection is named.
Ariel is fascinating--her skill with words, her wit, her self-control (for she obviously reigns herself in from being too emotional, too confessional, and yet one feels the pain and torment all the same, perhaps even more sharply), her ability to find Just the Right Words, is vivid and brilliant. When I finished Ariel, I was left with a feeling of vulnerability, pain, and enlightenment, as though I had seen what I had been missing all along and felt the absence of self-delusion deeply.
I have always been disturbed by the idea that Plath's creative energy seemed to stream from the destructive void that she felt inside of her soul and shared with the world, with skill and admirable lyricism... and yet I think that this is what made her such a *different*, unique poet. "Dying / Is an art, like everything else." She did it exceptionally well. -- K. Rivera
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