Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath (Penguin non-fiction) Paperback – 26 Jul 1990
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Top Customer Reviews
The biography contains daft passages as a result of this appeasement: my favourite is the long analysis of how very paranoid Plath was to continue to suspect Hughes of having an affair - when he WAS having an affair! On the other hand, the biog. doesn't help us much with understanding Hughes either because it's all so strained: for that you want Elaine Feinstein's far better biog. of Hughes himself. The best parts are the engagements with Plath's development as a writer.
It is honestly tragic that the lives of two of the finest poets of last century have been so ill served, not least by the custodians of their own writings. I suspect we won't get a good biography of Plath until another thirty or forty years have brought perspective to all concerned.
In the meantime, to understand Plath the best way forward is to read her own journals and (with due caution) letters home.
A secondary, related misson for this book is to exonerate Hughes of any responsibility for his wife's death. In order to achieve this, Stevenson simply leaves him out of much of the latter stages of Plath's life. He becomes like a ghost or a vague shadow, his name popping up in connection with some inconsequenteial detail here and there. There is one section, though, that is puzzling, as far as I'm concerned. When Plath and Hughes are living in Devon, at the start of the summer they split up, the Wevills visit them for a weekend. Stevenson relates an occasion when Assia Wevill is in the kitchen at the back of the house alone with Hughes. Sylvia, entering the front of the house, slips off her shoes and quietly approaches the kitchen to observe them. After that point, her manner towards Assia hardens.Read more ›
The job of the biographer is to lay out the facts and let the reader see into the life of the subject of the book. Stevenson takes sides, mostly with Hughes sister. The book comes off interesting (as Plath is an interesting subject), but tainted. Overall, it left a very bad taste on my palate for this authors work.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The best parts of this book are Stevenson's analysis of Plath's poetry, but even this has to be seen as fed through a prism of cynicism. Read morePublished on 9 Mar. 2013 by Gizzy666
The problem with Bitter Fame is evident on the first page, when Stevenson writes that she and Olwyn Hughes collaborated closely on the book. Read morePublished on 14 Oct. 2011 by Poetlaundrette
Anne Stevenson's come in for a lot of very unfair treatment for this book, including a decidedly spiteful remark from A. Read morePublished on 4 Oct. 2011 by Kate Hopkins
I am a big fan of Sylvia Plath and have read several books about her personal life, however, this book does provide new information. Read morePublished on 15 July 2009 by Mrs. S. Sutherland
This biography is one of the finest of any modern writer. For those who would make Plath a saint it falls well short of hagiography but is a thoughful account of the dificulty of... Read morePublished on 13 July 2009 by Robert Horn
Do not buy this one. Even at a reduced price you'd be wasting your money. It's a concoction between two people hostile to Sylvia - the biographer (a far less successful... Read morePublished on 5 Jun. 2009 by another customer
I have seldom read a more vindictive and downright mean bio of a major literary figure. There is no attempt to be objective rather it is subjective and reliant upon two or three... Read morePublished on 16 Jan. 2006