- Audio CD: 7 pages
- Publisher: Caedmon; Unabridged edition (February 28, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060878770
- ISBN-13: 978-0060878771
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 5.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,389 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #420,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Bell Jar CD Unabridged Edition
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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 Collected Poems, which won the Pulitzer Prize. 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.
Top customer reviews
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The autobiographical novel by Sylvia Plath, describing her painful ordeal when she becomes mentally ill is such a book.
This could have been a thoroughly depressing and self centred story in the hands of another and many may assume this when reading the blurb.
However do not be put off, because The Bell Jar is anything BUT depressing.
Plath writes with great humour and I laughed out loud more than once.
She also writes with the intelligence and skill of someone twice her age.
Her battle with mental illness (Bipolar Disorder) and her eventual recovery is written so honestly, so brilliantly I was more than impressed.
Of course there is sadness in the aftermath of the book because we know she actually took her own life at aged thirty, the same year The Bell Jar was published.
The world is a little worse off with the loss of this wonderful talent.
Anyone who has any inkling of how The Black Dog can grab you by the scruff of the neck from out of the blue will appreciate this book and anyone who simply enjoys outstanding literature will be equally impressed.
A great talent.
The story opens with Esther in New York, during the summer of her collegiate years, working and modeling for a prestigious NY magazine. Through many obscure and complex observations, we slowly get a picture of her; Boston suburbanite, Smith college-type on scholarship, the world literally at her feet. But it is, still at these beginning stages, the random comment or action that begins to creep in to her personality that makes the reader aware that something is not quite right. Sure enough, as we move on, Esther becomes more and more un-hinged, doing things far outside of her personality.
Soon we reach a point where she attempts suicide and discusses suicide as the answer to get her out from “under the Bell Jar.” The literary ease with which we go from NY magazine model to suicide victim is stark…I found myself having to put the book down occasionally to internalize what I’d just read. This is really an amazing ability that Plath had…flowing from one emotion to the other without noticing until the full force of Esther’s actions take hold. Where the first third of the novel is fairly light, the last two thirds are riveting, very difficult to put down. It’s very hard to understand how Plath had difficulty getting this work published…only under a pseudonym in 1963 London and not until 1971 in the U.S. after it had been turned down, harshly, by publisher Harper & Row. Today it is printed and re-printed in many languages and enjoys its well-deserved place among the literary classics.
To summarize, if one decides to delve into the classics, you can’t go wrong with this work. Dark, even frightful at times but always flowing and well written, The Bell Jar is both a stark referendum on mental illness and an amazing reading experience.
The elephant-in-the-room when reading this is A) it is known to be semi-autobiographical, and B) Sylvia Plath ended up committing suicide. That might for account how richly Plath captures depression -- how you rationalize the little things, the abrasive way nice, shiny, perfect things in the world exist around you, and the fear you can never feel the way you used to again. And I think the authenticity combined with Plath's stellar language (you can't take the poetry out of the poet) makes this probably among the best novels ever written about depression. The way Esther mulls over her virginity, her mother, her ex-boyfriend, and how to kill herself are enrapturing from beginning to end.
To me this is more 4.5 stars (or even 4.49), but rounded up because even the dullest parts of the novel are carried by witty narration and rhythmic prose. I don't think there'll be much to the story that will surprise a modern reader -- many stories have since followed the same structure of a young woman struggling with depression -- but none of them have the grace, humor, and merciless touch of Plath's words.