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American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath Hardcover – January 29, 2013
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*Starred Review* In spite of all that has been written about Sylvia Plath’s incendiary poetry, her doomed marriage to poet Ted Hughes, her suicide, and the vicious struggle over her literary estate, accomplished biographer Rollyson presents a fresh, focused, and clarifying interpretation of her “protean personality” and radical work. He kicks things off with a jolt: “Sylvia Plath is the Marilyn Monroe of modern literature.” On his way to substantiating this bold assertion, Rollyson draws on newly available materials, retrieves overlooked aspects of Plath’s life, decodes her fascination with the great deity Isis, and recognizes her intense, ultimately unsustainable ambition to be a paramount force. We see Plath as a high-IQ girl shattered by her father’s death, preternaturally close to her mother, and precociously devoted to writing and winning prizes. Rollyson offers intriguing insights into Plath’s ardor for popular culture, including such melodramatic fiction as Stella Dallas, by Olive Higgins Prouty, who became a mentor as Plath struggled to write both poetry and potboilers. In his true-life page-turner, Rollyson astutely deciphers Plath’s complicated love life and attempt to retain emotional distance, ex-pat life in England, jump-starting of Hughes’ career while relentlessly pursuing her own, and catastrophic depression. Rollyson unveils brilliant, driven, spotlight-craving Plath as an exceptional, trailblazing artist who pushed herself to be a goddess until she could do no more. --Donna Seaman
"The figure that emerges from Rollyson's study is certainly compelling, and very much a woman of her moment and culture." ---Publishers Weekly --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
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But as a book about Plath, there is some new information, but not much. It's just presented in a different package with a newer bow. If you've never read about Plath's story, then this is a good place to start. If you've read other biographies, then it could be worth a read depending on your interests. Overall, it's a good book-- but the highlights for me were the comparisons with Monroe.
Author A.M Torres author of Shadowed Tears and Turmoil.