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82 of 84 people found the following review helpful
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The best single collection of poetry natively written in the English language, barring "Complete Poems of" collections. So many poets have cited Sylvia Plath as being the poet whose work activated their interest and passion and appreciation for the art form. The power and craftsmanship apparent in this collection, in her original and intended organization, leaves no doubt that Sylvia Plath is one of the all-time greats.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
We finally have Ariel as Sylvia Plath intended it - the poems in the order left in her black ring binder in 1963. This powerful collection should be savoured and treasured more than it is. Additionally, the forward by Freida Hughes is an insightful personal memoir. Worth all the waiting.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 7 April 2005
'Ariel' is an anthology you'll return to again and again. The wonderful thing about poetry is that it is that it is for everyone. From the transcendental title poem itself (Ariel), through the turbulent and disturbing 'Daddy', to the cutting 'Edge' this anthology consumes you. Deeply personal, yet universally relevent this is Plath at her best, and yet at her worst which is an apposite description of her creative genuis. So often in life in Ted Hughs's shadow, this anthology remains true to the line 'The Woman is Perfected / Her dead body wears the smile of accomplishment' (Edge). The first performance of this poetry engages you, then every time you hear it, it means more, explores more, challenges more. Some criticise Personal Poetry for its lack of 'out-of-context' coherency, however, in this anthology Plath has suceeded in creating a whirlwind of emotion that works without any knowledge of Plath's life; however, the poems come to life the more you learn of her, the images become more horrific, or less horrific... Ariel allows you a small window into Plath's life-long journey towards the EXCITEMENT of death and the beauty and misery of that journey. This is an ameteur psychologist's dream... Buy it!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 6 December 2000
i'm studying Ariel for my A-level course, and have discovered Plath to be a fabulous poet. of course, she had her problems in life, but these serve to fuel her brilliant and unique poetry. i must admit, some of the poems i find difficult to get into, but others are simply perfect, e.g. Edge, one of her last poems. if you buy one poetry book this year, make it this one!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 1 November 2002
The opening poem in this collection is one of the most moving and imaginatively powerful celebrations of life ever written, depicticting the joy and hope that lies in the birth of child and setting the tone for the entire collection; a tone that contrasts heavily with the traditional view of Ariel as 'poetry of depression'. Indeed, even in such poems as 'Daddy' and 'Lady Lazarus' there is a certain feeling of elation which an astute reader will no doubt pick up on, and rarely is there any feeling of the author's 'wallowing in misery'.
It is clear from the outset that Plath sets out to present a balanced and almost comprehensive outlook on life; it's ups and its downs, its triumphs and its failures, and, in what is a rather excellent book of poetry (with a few fairly minor flaws) Plath has achieved just that. Though not quite '[a] woman completed', Plath nevertheless produced a collection that is both moving and intriguing.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 16 August 2010
After reading the other reviews I think I'm a bit of a Philistine so far as Sylvia Plath is concerned. I find much of her poetry obscure and hard to fathom, even though some of the imagery is spectacular and original. I also wonder whether I have the same edition (the cover looks the same as that shown on Amazon's site except that mine is grey instead of what appears to be dark blue) because others refer to starting with the word `Love' (so does mine) and ending with `Spring'. Mine ends with `life', and lacks the foreword by Frieda Hughes, which might perhaps have helped.

For me, the intrusion of blood, hospitals, an ambulance, sirens, etc makes many of the poems feel morbid. Even so, I can see a bleak beauty in her work and would like to understand it better. There is a depth and obscurity to the poems, which improve with familiarity. I like `The Moon and the Yew Tree' and the bee poems, but in my view this is not an easy volume for the casual reader.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2005
There are few more searing books of poetry in the English language. It breaks, fragments, cuts like crystal. Hard, fragile truths. So much has been written about Plath, but it's her poetry that shines.
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on 7 September 2011
Regarding previous editions of Ariel, I was beautifully surprised to acknowledged three main novelties in this restored edition: (1) the original selection of poems, as in the manuscript left by Sylvia before commiting suicide; (2) the facsimile of the original manuscript; (3) the different versions of the superb "Ariel", in order to illustrate Sylvia's creative process. This book is absolutely compulsory for all plathians.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 27 December 2001
'Ariel' is an anthology you'll return to again and again. The wonderful thing about poetry is that it is that it is for everyone. From the transcendental title poem itself (Ariel), through the turbulent and disturbing Daddy, to the cutting Edge this anthology consumes you. Deeply personal, yet universally relevent this is Plath at her best, and yet at her worst which is an apposite description of her creative genuis. So often in life in Ted Hughs' shadow, this anthology remains true to the line 'The Woman is Perfected / Her dead body wears the smile of accomplishment' (Edge). The first performance of this poetry engages you, then every time you hear it, it means more, explores more, challenges more. Some criticise Personal Poetry for its lack of 'out-of-context' coherency, however, in this anthology Plath has suceeded in creating a whirlwind of emotion that works without any knowledge of Plath's life. However, the poems come to life the more you learn of her, the images become more horrific, or less horrific... Ariel allows you a small window into Plath's life-long journey towards the EXCITEMENT of death and the beauty and misery of that journey. This is an ameteur psychologist's dream... Buy it!
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