The journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962

by Sylvia Plath

Other authorsKaren V. Kukil (Editor)
Hardcover, 2000




London : Faber, 2000.


Presents the complete journals of twentieth-century American author Sylvia Plath, from 1950 to 1962, transcribed from her original manuscripts.

Media reviews

Dit morrelen aan de mogelijkheden van het bestaan maakt Plaths proza zeer de moeite waard. Ze raakt algemene levenswetten, waar iedereen mee worstelt. Ze graait naar de onbekende toekomst en dat is tragisch en vervreemdend, omdat wij lezers precies weten hoeveel dagen ze nog heeft. Plath weet alleen dat ze ontelbare mogelijkheden heeft om haar leven richting te geven, maar ze wil de verantwoordelijkheid van het kiezen niet aan, dat beknot haar te veel. Daarom blikt ze op een dwangmatig bestraffende manier vooruit ('I must' en 'I shall' zijn een repeterend refrein) en vergeet zo de zachte blos op de zure goudrenet van haar leven.

User reviews

LibraryThing member donp
Yet another impulse buy at the used bookstore. I've not read any Plath; probably won't either--just not my thing. But, I'm in a voyeuristic phase where I'm dying to see what writers put into their notebooks and journals.
LibraryThing member the.ken.petersen
The terrible thing is, that I have lived with a lady like this: just when you decide that she is utterly impossible, she does something so kind that it takes your breath away.

Sylvia seems to have been well aware of her faults and was, undoubtedly her own hardest critic. I can still appreciate how difficult the relationship must have been for Ted Hughes.

Journals and diaries are difficult because, if one notes down one's thoughts almost without review, they can seem harsh to the reader who has time to reflect. Sylvia is, almost without exception, hard on the people she meets. Ted seems to be the only one to consistently get the benefit of the doubt and, even there, he is sometimes bemused by an air of disapproval for which he has no explanation. Oft times, it seems Sylvia doesn't either. It definitely was not a good idea for Sylvia to live with a successful poet. She believed that Ted's lead in the writing stakes would prevent competition but, it is apparent that Sylvia did take her rejections very personally.

This is a book which asks more questions than it answers and I must soon try a biography of Sylvia to see whether someone else's perspective gives a better light on the lady's history, which is rarely mentioned in this book.
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LibraryThing member a211423
I made this "biography" instead of autobiographical because it is edited by Ted Hughes in which he removed at will a large part of the journal. I would recommend reading the unabridged version, not this one unless you want to compare the two.
LibraryThing member sadiebooks
beautifully written. i wish my diaries were so deep and philosophical....although on the other hand, maybe im glad they have their bright nonsensical moments.
LibraryThing member HadriantheBlind
I feel like an intruder reading this.

Incredibly vast and intricate, even her ordinary accounts of days are almost as eloquent and forceful as her poetry.
LibraryThing member lindsaydiffee
I love her.
LibraryThing member pivic
As journals go, this is a very open one; even so, this version, erupted slightly before Ted Hughes' death in 1998, does not contain much after 1961, which is sad. Even if Hughes destroyed those journals, this book is a genuine treasury.

These journals contain what Plath wrote from 1950 to 1962. As such, it contains notes on her growing up; dating, life, death, school-work, her future, travelling, and very notably her success as a poet, her mood-swings and what struck me the most, her innermost thoughts on a variety of subjects.

Plath was seldom vulgar in her journals. Neither does she seem anything other than honest.

What she writes on love is intricate and vulnerable, especially when dating, from 1950 to the moment when she meets Hughes and later marries him.

Their togetherness and love seems so strong, especially her devotion to him, which does sadly, not in the slightest, explain most of her poems (e.g. "The Jailor") in the unabridged version of "Ariel", her last batch of poems, previously abridged by Hughes.

This is genuinely a real experience and is recommendable to everybody. It is little wonder that Plath liked J.D. Salinger, adored Virginia Woolf and loved James Joyce. Read this and do yourself a favour.

I've cobbled up samples from the book here.
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LibraryThing member viviennestrauss
At times I felt as if I would never finish though it only took approximately two weeks for me to read. It sat on my nightstand for nearly a year before I actually felt ready to tackle it. Lots of underlining and dog ears just reaffirming how difficult life is in general and how much harder to be true to your art.
LibraryThing member amerynth
Like many girls of my day, I was obsessed with Sylvia Plath back in my high school years-- I read everything I could get my hands on by her, as well as the Ted Hughes edit of her journals (in which her talented, scoundrel of a husband left out pretty much anything critical of himself.)

I've long wanted to read the "unabridged version" which still seems to be missing a lot. Hughes burned Plath's final journal after his estranged wife's suicide... there are also big gaps in this book, which seems odd for such a meticulous note taker.

Plath's journals are an interesting read-- she struggled so much with wanting and despairing of the conventional role for women of her time. She reminded me so much of Virginia Woolf-- I wondered how both of these ladies would have fared in a times where a woman's sexuality does not need to be repressed.

I found the journals reminded me how brilliant Plath was, even as an 18-year-old college freshman. She write a lot about the process of writing in them, which drags a bit after a while, but overall, these journals were an interesting read.
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