Most helpful positive review
82 of 84 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful. And important.
on 7 January 2005
I have read Plath inside out and backwards, and intermittently for eight years (I discovered her at the age of 22). She is now the subject of the final chapter of my thesis, which i am just preparing for submission. My PhD supervisor encouraged me to buy this book for the sake of my thesis, although I was reluctant to buy yet another book (funds are very limited!). After all, I already had the 'Collected Poems' which lists the poems in the order plath wanted at the back of the book; I am familiar with all of them. Furthermore, I have owned and lost no less than three copies of the published 'Ariel' owing to my habit of carrying it about places with me! (Please be assured I am not some suicide-obsessed pseudo-goth.) However, this book is superb. even though I knew the correct order of the poems, reading them like this is a completely different experience. The foreword by Frieda Hughes is extremely touching, showing her troubled loyalty to both parents (Ted Hughes, who of course edited the first publication of Ariel, leaving out about a dozen of the poems that he felt were inflammatory; and including in their place some of her very last, extremely depressed/depressing works that were written shortly before her death) who have for forty years been set one against the other in the popular imagination. The trajectory of the restored text takes you down before taking you up again, famously (as noted by Hughes in his foreword to the 'Collected Poems') beginning with the word 'love' and ending with 'spring'; this being precisely as Plath desired.
Whether or not you feel you wish to add this book to your collection is impossible for me to judge, but I consider this to be an essential bookshelf item, and furthermore ought to be read alongisde the prior version of 'Ariel'. The latter ends on a note so hopeless - precluding all possibility - that it shuts down on the reader like a lens. This restored text opens up a horizon. For those more interested in suicide (or what Frieda Hughes called in a poem of her own, a 'sylvia suicide doll') than in poetic or writerly integrity, then perhaps this book is not the best choice. For anyone interested more in the poetry, however, and in what it meant for this woman to write,and what it has meant that her words were compromised, then I recommend it. But whether you buy it or not, it's absolutely right and proper that this book be published.