Book Review

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Photo on 17-04-2013 at 18.08 #3

I thoroughly enjoyed The Bell Jar. And I realise “enjoyed” might not sound like the appropriate word…

I loved Plath’s prose, I loved her terse honesty, I loved her involving metaphors, her explorative, confessional tone and the feel of reading words written by someone opening up the darkest parts of herself…

The things I most enjoy reading about in literature are unhappiness and social displacement, both of which this (sadly slim) volume is packed with. Another thing that impresses me is an honest and non-optimistic attitude towards the visceral – fucking, shitting, eating, physical pain. And this book ticks off all those. There is exactly my kind of wide-open, arms, anus, heart, loins to the world honest writing. In terms of content. In terms of style, it is beautifully written in that clipped, waste nothing, Hemingway-inspired style that I am also so fond of. Though struggle to emulate.

I enjoyed the insight into depression, into mental health treatments in the middle of the twentieth century, into a world Tennessee Williams often writes about, but without any of the pantomime villains or “jungle sounds”. I enjoyed the failed trip to New York of the first half, probably the most, I enjoyed sharing in the protagonist’s feeling of distance from her peers, her family, her life…

It is a thoroughly well-written and stirring novel, and I would highly recommend it. I wish I could recommend it to myself.

The best thing I’ve read since the last 50 pages of A Time To Every Purpose Under Heaven.

10 comments on “The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

  1. Freya Bromley

    I have recently written an article on whether Sylvia Plath was feminist or not.
    Please read it and let me know what you think, I hope my writing is a thoughtful and eloquent as yours.
    Freya Bromley


  2. Agreed. I’ve read it a bajillion times and the end makes me want to laugh and cry and punch things. It makes me want to kill myself in the most brilliant and glorious way possible.

    If you like it you should read Sputnick Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami. Different in style but super similar on soul.



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