- Series: Modern Classics
- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; 1 edition (August 2, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060837020
- ISBN-13: 978-0060837020
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1,374 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Bell Jar (Modern Classics) 1st Edition
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Plath was an excellent poet but is known to many for this largely autobiographical novel. The Bell Jar tells the story of a gifted young woman's mental breakdown beginning during a summer internship as a junior editor at a magazine in New York City in the early 1950s. The real Plath committed suicide in 1963 and left behind this scathingly sad, honest and perfectly-written book, which remains one of the best-told tales of a woman's descent into insanity. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Esther Greenwood's account of her years in the bell jar is as clear and readable as it is witty and disturbing....[This] is not a potboiler, nor a series of ungrateful caricatures: it is literature." -- New York Times
"The first-person narrative fixes us there, in the doctor's office, in the asylum, in the madness, with no reassuring vacations when we can keep company with the sane and listen to their lectures." -- Book World
"The narrator simply describes herself as feeling very still and very empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel. The in-between moment is just what Miss Plath's poetry does catch brilliantly--the moment poised on the edge of chaos." -- Christian Science Monitor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
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 novel gets far more interesting beginning around chapter 10 when Esther's mental illness begins to show itself much more drastically, and continues to spiral from there. The novel is largely autobiographical, and Plath's detailed descriptions of her experiences with mental illness are intriguing to say the least. Those interested in psychology could nearly use this novel as a case study. Much of the contents here overlap with known and recorded details of Plath's life, and if the reader is aware of these details, they will most certainly feel for Esther all the more strongly.
Plath's writing is solid poetic prose as one might expect, and the reading is quick. Most appreciated of all, however, was the honesty this book seems to convey; the willingness to bear all for the world to see, in all it's ugliness, insecurity, and even hope.
From a teacher perspective, I was worried this book would be difficult for my students because it is slow to begin and often dark. If you are teaching this novel, I highly recommend a focus on resilience, on seeking help, and on teaching about mental illness. I also highly recommend reading some of the more graphic chapters with students so they can be discussed. There are multiple detailed descriptions of suicide attempts. My students, however, are actually enjoying this book most of each of the books we've read this year. They like the honesty of it, and the graphic aspects and details (though we have not yet reached the notably darker mid-portions yet). They like Esther's sense of humor and her descriptions of things (especially the more adult content). Though my initial impressions of the novel were not wholly positive, I have been swayed both by the second half and my student's reactions to it. I do recommend teaching it, as there is much that can be talked about, but stick to an older age group (Juniors or Seniors. MAYBE mature Sophomores) and provide sufficient open discussion and support.