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The Bell Jar [ THE BELL JAR ] By Plath, Sylvia ( Author )Feb-28-2006 Compact Disc [CD-ROM]

Sylvia Plath
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (284 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • CD-ROM
  • Publisher: Caedmon (28 Feb 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005D3AF4K
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (284 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and studied at Smith College. In 1955 she went to Cambridge University on a Fulbright scholarship, where she met and later married Ted Hughes. She published one collection of poems in her lifetime, The Colossus (1960), and a novel, The Bell Jar (1963). Her Collected Poems, which contains her poetry written from 1956 until her death, was published in 1981 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Excellent 5 Sep 2006
Format:Paperback
As a real book worm, I knew that this book was semi-autobiographical before I read it, and I had thought that Plath would struggle to remove herself enough from her situation in order to be able to write about it in a subjective way. I am pleased to say however, that I was mistaken! Plath describes excellently the plunging depths of depressive illness, even conveying to me - someone who has never suffered from depression - the true despair and suffocation that can be experienced.

The bell-jar itself is a description of how it feels to fall into a period of depression- entering into a suffocating, surreal and distorted world where only you live- unable to communicate with anybody.

One piece of symbolism I really enjoyed in the book was the notion of the fig tree, and how your life can be represented by a fig tree...so many branches representing the many paths you could take in life. The choice of; which branch will lead you to a delicious fig?...but the ever conscious notion that if you take too long to decide your path, the figs will all be rotten by the time you pick one.

I really enjoyed this book. Excellent read.
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128 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The original and best on depression? 23 Jan 2004
By sjs101 VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Sylvia Plath is probably one of the most recognisable female authors and poets of modern times, she will be largely remembered for her haunting poetry of depression and mostly autobiographical novel (the first and last) the Bell Jar in which her real life persona is replaced by Esther Greenwood, a young woman who is on the verge of breaking into the writing world. In the first section of the book Esther is an intern in New York working for a prestigious fashion magazine. It is clear from the outset that she has worries as she cannot find any immediate beauty in the cosmopolitan world of NY, she merely carries on day to day but it is clear the enjoyment and excitement is gone.
As the book progresses we see her return home where she essentially suffers a nervous breakdown in which she is unable to move from her room and concludes that the everyday tasks of life are too unbearable. She then goes on the journey into a deep depression in which she clearly considers the best method for suicide, has regular visits to a psychiatrist and spends time in a mental rehabilitation unit. The one thing that this book highlights is the terrible way in which mentally ill people were treated in the 50’s and early 60’s, the method of electric shock therapy to eradicate her depressed feelings leaves her scared of any other ‘help’ she may receive, and we see how petrified she becomes when next given this ‘treatment’ albeit once more under more friendlier circumstances.
The story is a powerful evocation of Plaths own mental health issues and by writing this book she successfully suggested to a quietened nation of other mental health sufferers that it was ‘ok’ to feel this way and that it happened to the best and most promising bright young things.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gem of a book 6 Feb 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a portrayal of a 'descent into insanity' but not in the dramatic way one might assume. What is most striking about this book is the calm, rational, measured tone used throughout. It is almost as if Plath is convincing the reader that these thoughts and sentiments are perfectly normal. The articulate prose does not seem to be the product of a garbled mind. The underlying humour of the narrative also seems to undercut the theme of depression. However, depression permeates the text as it permeates the character's life. There is lethargy, indifference, a failure to see the point of life. Yet all of this is presented in almost a casual manner - not to make light of the subject, but rather to effectively convey how for the depressive, such notions are part of everyday life. In this way, Plath manages to portray a difficult and heavy subject in a manner which any reader can understand.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Genius!! 10 Dec 2000
Format:Paperback
I don't recall ever being so moved by a book as I felt when I read The Bell Jar. The way in which Plath likens the feelings of detatchment and solitude felt by sufferers of depression to a belljar is pure genius. This book is not only thought provoking, it also provides an invaluable insight into the unknown territory of insanity. This book is a must read for anyone remotely interested in mental health and also anyone who has ever experienced depressive illness. I highly recommend it.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic, haunting insight 3 July 2007
By Me123
Format:Paperback
Sylvia Plath's semi-autobiographical novel is a harrowing, thought provoking insight into the mind of a woman who is almost synonymous with mental illness.

Indeed, the mental health issue runs through the novel and the main character, who is based on Plath in a number of ways, spends a significant amount of time in a mental institution, dealing with the effects this has on her and her condition. The work provides a haunting insight to the reality of a mental illness, and how this affects the sufferer and their immediate family and friends.

From studying Plath's poetry, it can be clearly seen that the central character is based on the author. The most obvious representation comes from their conditions in the novel (bi-polar disorder, abandonment issues, a hint of an Electra Complez) and if you know anything about Plath, many short quotations in the novel take on a much more significant meaning than they would on their own. In fact, it is probably best to understand the writer's basic background before approaching the novel.

So far, I've painted a picture of a heavy, depressing read. Whilst I cannot deny that it is a heavy book dealing with a massive subject, I did not find it depressing in any way, but rather fascinating.

"The Bell Jar" is a crucial work of American literature, and is an essential purchase for any fan of Plath's work, or any fan of literature in general. Be warned, however, that it is a heavy book, particularly if you do not understand the background.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars This was one of the most boring books i've ever had the misfortune of...
This was one of the most boring books i've ever had the misfortune of reading.
Why did i bother reading it you may ask!? Well it had good reviews and i bought it. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Ms. T. M. Garrett
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
The Bell Jar was published in 1963 and is very interesting to me as it doesn’t just give us an insight in to the characters life, it tells us of the author Sylvia Plaths life also... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Elia Dolan
5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal pressie
My wife Enjoyed the book & would recommend it.
Nice one
Published 8 days ago by Kevin doogan
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
Brilliant book and this copy is great quality and a good price!
Published 9 days ago by Amy Wells
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
captures the emotion of Plath
Published 14 days ago by K J THOMPSON
5.0 out of 5 stars beautifully written. Surprisingly easy to read in spite of ...
Interesting, sensitive story, beautifully written. Surprisingly easy to read in spite of complicated nature of mental health issues.
Published 16 days ago by BJ Warner
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing.
Amazing. Beautifully written, and a very accurate and subtle description of the decline into depression. I absolutely recommend it.
Published 17 days ago by Beth
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius
My favourite book of all time. My A Level teacher gave it to us with trigger warnings but I didn't find this to be a problem, in fact, it's really important to know what to look... Read more
Published 20 days ago by Ben Bradshaw
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading
I was drawn to the book by the story of Plath and the book is semi-autobiographical. It's a very interesting story of mental illness and although I understand many critics have... Read more
Published 22 days ago by C. Potter
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written, but Hard to Understand
Esther Greenwood has spent a quiet peacful life in the area of Bosten and now, as a prise, she and a dozen or so other girls get to stay in the glits and glamour of New York City,... Read more
Published 24 days ago by G.A. Austin
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