This attractively presented volume of Sylvia Plath's diaries and journals is the unabridged edition, the text being an exact and complete transcription of the twenty-three original manuscripts in the Sylvia Plath Collection at Smith College, Massachusetts. The poet began to keep diaries at the age of eleven and she continued to do so until her untimely death at the age of thirty - the journals in this edition are mostly of her adult years and cover the period from 1950 until 1962 - however the entries included from 1960-1962 consist of a few journal fragments only. The Preface to this volume informs the reader that when in 1981 Smith College acquired all of the manuscripts remaining from the Plath Estate, two of the journals were sealed by Ted Hughes until 11th February 2013. However, both journals were unsealed by Ted Hughes shortly before his death in 1998 and are presented in their entirety in this edition. The two bound journals that Sylvia Plath wrote during the last three years of her life are not included; one of the journals seems to have disappeared and the other, which contained entries to within three days of the poet's suicide, was destroyed by Hughes. However, what we have here, in this volume of journals, makes for compelling reading.
"I may never be happy, but tonight I am content..." so begins the first entry for July 1950 and as we move forward we read of Plath's worries over her attractiveness to the opposite sex: "First I need a boy to be captivated by my appearance... then I need someone real who will be right for me now, here, and soon. Until then I'm lost. I think I am mad at times." As we read on we learn about Plath's time at Smith College, her period at Cambridge, her meeting with Ted Hughes, of course; of their marriage, their children, her teaching, her writing, her worries, her insecurities, her hopes and fears ... and a huge amount more. This volume of journals, which is nicely presented and with a good selection of photographs, gives the reader a wonderfully intimate portrait of the poet and an opportunity to read the diaries as they were written in her own distinctive voice and where her talent for writing shines through. Intriguing, fascinating, poignant, raw and very immediate, these journal entries are, I feel, best read in measured doses and perhaps alongside one of the biographies - Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath (Penguin non-fiction) or Mad Girl's Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted. Recommended.
Please note: I first read these journals several years ago, but my original copy was mislaid and has now been replaced with this latest paperback copy. As far as I am aware, this edition is a newly-covered edition of the 2001 publication: The Journals of Sylvia Plath and not an entirely new edition.