Customer Review

17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Incomplete Journals of a monomaniac., 29 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Journals of Sylvia Plath (Hardcover)
I wish I could have given this book 5 stars, the content is riveting, but I decided to give it four because of the editing by Karen V. Kukil.
The Journals of Sylvia Plath as we all know are incomplete, they were edited (sanitized) by her husband Ted Hughes. No doubt whatsoever that the material he 'lost' was detrimental to him. The only thing he allows in the book is her account of his dalliance with a student, after which she begins to see him in a different light. It leaves you at the end of the book feeling very sorry for this woman, and wanting to find out more. (Which one can't help feeling was a marketing ploy by Hughes, who sold the rights to her book the Bell Jar to the Americans after her death in spite of her mother's objections, so that he could raise the money to buy a third home).
Sylvia Plath was brilliant, sexy, vivacious and sociable. She was also completely obsessed with analyzing the working of her mind, her emotions and sensitivities. She was narcissistic, selfish and critical to the point of meanness. The rawness of her emotions is hard to take sometimes. What a normal person would consider to be a rough sea of life and cope accordingly, she turns into a force 10 hurricane. One cannot help feeling that the journals were written to be published, that the author KNEW someday they would be discovered and read by everyone. The writing is beautiful. The very first entry July 1950 is a delight:-
"I may never be happy, but tonight I am content. Nothing more than an empty house, the warm hazy weariness from a day spent setting strawberry runners in the sun, a glass of cool sweet milk, and a shallow dish of blueberries bathed in cream......"
Once started, it is hard to put the book down.
A word now about the editing. I think the book could have been better organized for the general reader, it is formatted like a text book. All the cross-referencing! I had to use two bookmarks all the way through the reading of the book. The 'Notes' could have been at the bottom of each page instead of hidden at the back of the book. The Appendices could have been Notes at the end of each appertaining journal section, and the Index could have been better arranged. The section on Sylvia Plath (which takes up 5 1/2 pages of the index) should have been separated from the rest, to make it less confusing.
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