4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Life before Ted Hughes,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Mad Girl's Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted (Kindle Edition)
There are many biographies of Plath, and they frequently take issue with each other. What makes this one different is that Wilson de-centres the more usual arc of her life and focuses on Sylvia’s life before she met Ted Hughes.
Taking her from childhood till she came to study at Cambridge where, of course, she met Hughes and married him within four months, this gives us a slightly different Plath. Wilson has interviewed many people who knew Sylvia in her school and student days, and has tried to work from her journals and letters rather than previous biographies. This gives a freshness to the narrative though, inevitably, biographical readings of Plath’s own fiction lead us into some familiar territory.
What we can know about Plath and her inner life is always partial and compromised, and it’s interesting to ponder what was unique to Plath in this story of adolescence and young womanhood in the repressive 1950s, and what was, in fact, the story of a generation. Precisely because she is Sylvia Plath there is an urge to make her experiences uniquely her own, and there is an inevitable hindsight, given her end, in reading back through her life: it all seems to point inevitably and teleologically to that kitchen in Primrose Hill when in reality, Plath could have had a very different life had she so chosen.
Plath herself comes over as a strange and compelling mix of arrogance and insecurity, an acutely narcissistic personality whose only subject of all her writings was herself. So this is a very good biography of a troubled woman which adds to the mythology – and it’s nice that that mythology can, for once, be Plath’s alone rather than one shared with Hughes.