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A Lover of Unreason: The Life and Tragic Death of Assia Wevill: The Biography of Assia Wevill Hardcover – 28 Sep 2006
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...One of the most wonderfully well-written and powerful literary
biographies I have encountered. -- Roger Lewis, Mail on Sunday, October 15, 2006
"Eye opening, utterly intriguing biography of the beautiful but
troubled women who was one of Ted Hughes's mistresses."
-- The Sunday Times, Culture, October 15, 2006
'Assia was my true wife, and the best friend I ever had', wrote a heart-broken Ted Hughes, after Assia Wevill surrendered her life and that of their four-year old daughter to the fumes from the gas oven in her London flat, in March 1969 six years after Sylvia Plath had suffered a similiar fate. Diva, she-devil, enchantress, muse, Lillith, Jezebel - the exquisitely beautiful Assia Wevill inspired or provoked many epithets in the course of three marriages and in pursuit of a destiny that took her from dark pre-war Berlin, to Palestine during the British Mandate and then to London in the swinging 'Sixties. In the end, none would prove to be more fitting than the epithet- and epitaph- she chose for herself: 'Here lies a lover of unreason, and an exile'. The story of the ultimately tragic failure in the marriage between Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, twentieth-century poetry's most celebrated literary couple, has always been related from one of two conflicting points of view: hers or his. Missing for more than four decades had been a third, equally relevant and no less fascinating perspective: that of Ted Hughes's mistress, Assia Wevill."The Lover of Unreason", the first biography of Assia Wevill, views afresh the Plath-Hughes relationship and marriage with a keen, revisionary eye, and at the same time, recounts the journey that shaped her life. Hers is a complex story, formed as it is by the pull of often contrary forces: fatal attraction and obsessive love, fidelity and adultery, cruelty and tenderness, dependence and rebellion, envy and self-sacrifice. See all Product description
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This book completed a jigsaw for me. Having begun with an interest in his work, gradually I wanted to know the man; meeting him helped but there was so much more to know. I never had any prurient interest in the backgrounds, just a fascination for the real people, not just them but other famous artists, scientists, composers, architects and so on.
Assia Wevill seemed the key to so many changes in his later life, not least his marriage and separation from Plath and her suicide. Wevill's suicide on March 23, 1969, and her killing of their daughter, Shura, unlike Plath who carefully protected their children from the gas, must have been a blow from which rising must have been difficult. "His wife's and mistress's suicides were 'giant steel doors shutting down over great parts' of himself" Hughes wrote in 1984; how much he had caused the doors to shut himself must have been a question for him throughout his life. It has certainly been one for biographers and anyone interested.
Koren and Negev probe the deepest areas of these tragic relationships without creating feelings of being where one should not with a motive one cares not to admit. In the latter chapters, "The Die is Cast" and "Agony", they chart those awful days in scholarly but objective detail, using many references to try to explain why people so talented should take their own lives. Although difficult, they maintain a non-judgemental stance while probing the personalities with laser-like precision.
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