The Bell Jar (Faber Firsts) Paperback – Special Edition, 7 May 2009
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Plath was an excellent poet but is known to many for this largely autobiographical novel. The Bell Jar tells the story of a gifted young woman's mental breakdown beginning during a summer internship as a junior editor at a magazine in New York City in the early 1950s. The real Plath committed suicide in 1963 and left behind this scathingly sad, honest and perfectly- written book, which remains one of the best-told tales of a woman's descent into insanity. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"'In looking at the madness of the world and the world of madness [this book] forces us to consider the great question posed by all truly realistic fiction: what is reality and how can it be confronted?' New York Times Book Review" --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The bell-jar itself is a description of how it feels to fall into a period of depression- entering into a suffocating, surreal and distorted world where only you live- unable to communicate with anybody.
One piece of symbolism I really enjoyed in the book was the notion of the fig tree, and how your life can be represented by a fig tree...so many branches representing the many paths you could take in life. The choice of; which branch will lead you to a delicious fig?...but the ever conscious notion that if you take too long to decide your path, the figs will all be rotten by the time you pick one.
I really enjoyed this book. Excellent read.
As the book progresses we see her return home where she essentially suffers a nervous breakdown in which she is unable to move from her room and concludes that the everyday tasks of life are too unbearable. She then goes on the journey into a deep depression in which she clearly considers the best method for suicide, has regular visits to a psychiatrist and spends time in a mental rehabilitation unit. The one thing that this book highlights is the terrible way in which mentally ill people were treated in the 50’s and early 60’s, the method of electric shock therapy to eradicate her depressed feelings leaves her scared of any other ‘help’ she may receive, and we see how petrified she becomes when next given this ‘treatment’ albeit once more under more friendlier circumstances.
The story is a powerful evocation of Plaths own mental health issues and by writing this book she successfully suggested to a quietened nation of other mental health sufferers that it was ‘ok’ to feel this way and that it happened to the best and most promising bright young things.Read more ›
Indeed, the mental health issue runs through the novel and the main character, who is based on Plath in a number of ways, spends a significant amount of time in a mental institution, dealing with the effects this has on her and her condition. The work provides a haunting insight to the reality of a mental illness, and how this affects the sufferer and their immediate family and friends.
From studying Plath's poetry, it can be clearly seen that the central character is based on the author. The most obvious representation comes from their conditions in the novel (bi-polar disorder, abandonment issues, a hint of an Electra Complez) and if you know anything about Plath, many short quotations in the novel take on a much more significant meaning than they would on their own. In fact, it is probably best to understand the writer's basic background before approaching the novel.
So far, I've painted a picture of a heavy, depressing read. Whilst I cannot deny that it is a heavy book dealing with a massive subject, I did not find it depressing in any way, but rather fascinating.
"The Bell Jar" is a crucial work of American literature, and is an essential purchase for any fan of Plath's work, or any fan of literature in general. Be warned, however, that it is a heavy book, particularly if you do not understand the background.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just as I thought very depressing but as I expected good value for moneyPublished 3 days ago by susan siddall
Didn't really live up to its hype but book arrived as described so would endorse this seller.Published 1 month ago by Catwoman
I remember trying to read this book before and I didn't want to. Upon a request of my friend, I reread and found it very enjoyable. It was intense in emotion and imagery. Read morePublished 1 month ago by ThatIdealist
What becomes really clear in this day and age is how out of date treatments are for depression and how barbaric they are. Read morePublished 1 month ago by PAS
I chose this book of a list that I could read for high school; and I am so glad that I did. It was quite strange reading it, it has quite a strange 'mood', that's quite hard to... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ana
Having previously read the poetry of Emily Dickinson and the works of Alice Sheldon and Matt Haig, it is perhaps inevitable that all paths should lead to this iconic novel about... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Tim Dumble