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    Contributions: May 1999

    I have been enthralled by Plath for the last four years, and it is just my weird luck that my English teacher assigned a Plath analysis final. I can understand "Edge" and dissect "Sow" and understand Plath's macabre humor in "Cut," but, for the life of me, I cannot get into "Ariel." Does Plath, as I have heard suggested, identify with victims of the Holocaust in this poem? What on earth is she saying? Can anyone give me a hint?

    Chico, USA
    Monday, May 31, 1999

    I am trying to locate Holly Norton, who wrote her dissertation on Plath in 1996. If anyone happens to know her email or snail mail address, could you please email it to me at Thanks in advance.

    Margaret Freeman
    Topanga, USA
    Monday, May 31, 1999

    I have followed much of Sylvia Plath's life and works due to the profound similarities between her life and mine, her personality and mine. I have heard much about a forthcoming film about her life to star Meg Ryan. Can someone confirm this? I would very much hope there would be a film. I would also appreciate details on some mailing lists regarding her work and forums for discussion.

    Hazera Bibi
    Luton, England
    Monday, May 31, 1999

    The chicken or the egg? That's how I feel about Plath and her "notoriety", fame, whatever. I think in the short term, her death did contribute to her fame, but as the years pass it is her writing which will (as she herself said) "make my name". But this may only be amongst people who care about writing, about language and are passionate about it. Plath's death is seen by some as a "career move", as if she had no other motivations or indeed conditions. (Did anyone else see that reference in the New Yorker recently? I'm sorry I can't remember the issue but within two months, probably.) Weldon Kees, John Berryman, Randall Jarrell, Anne Sexton and Hart Crane all also died self-destructively, and I'm only naming the writers I know who did. Some of these poets are more famous than others, but who is taken seriously by the world of academia, who gets biographies written about him/her, who has countless sites on the internet, discussion groups...Plath does. (I'm not saying the others don't, necessarily, but Plath has the kit and caboodle here.) And I like to think all this is happening because the writing is, what do you know, very good. If Plath's writing wasn't important, who would bother?

    When I first heard of Plath I didn't know about Assia and indeed for a long time wondered just who she was and what she did to get Crow dedicated to her. Her death, I feel, is only of interest to a few and not to the masses who only know Plath as "the poetry chick who killed herself", if you know what I mean. An awful lot of hype and melodrama surround Plath, fantasias Olwyn calls them, and Plath started some of them herself, her death and subsequent poetry books and The Bell Jar fed them, and all this is still swirling in the air, albeit at a less hurricane-like pace. Here we all are, 36 years after her death, talking about her.

    I don't know if Plath would find the "Bake-off" term funny; considering her humor, I think she would. But I've got to stand up for the teenage girls who consider Plath a martyr. I was taught poetry in high school, but Plath wasn't in the curriculum. Now, at least on the evidence of the many questions posted here at the Forum, she is. From my experience these are not people who see Plath as a martyr of any sort, although there will always be people going through rough times who are touchy about Plath. Some of them are in high school, and some are older. Some stick with Plath and others see her later as a "phase" they went through. That's all.

    Lena Friesen
    Toronto, Canada
    Friday, May 28, 1999

    Each February I host the annual Sylvia Plath Bake-Off here in New York's Hudson Valley, and what started off as just a sick joke/puncturing blow to all those teenage girls who see Sylvia as merely a martyr has become the literary event of the winter. This past Feb. we had over 50 in attendance. The most controversial aspect of the whole thing has been the use of the phrase 'Bake-Off', which apparently is owned by Pillsbury. We received a threatening letter from them a couple of years back, and now in official press releases use the spelling, 'Bak-off' or some variation thereof. It was not started out of disrespect, but out of a need to knock the Goddess down from the perch, so we could really get a good look at her. This year we featured selections from "Birthday Letters" juxtaposed with corresponding Plath pieces. It was a 4-hour event, and as they say, a good time was had by all. Next year I would like to feature poems about Plath by others. Open to suggestions, comments, etc. Thanks for the site....

    Cheryl Aa. Rice
    Kingston, NY, USA
    Thursday, May 27, 1999

    What do people have to say about the idea that the notoriety of Plath, and the subsequent vast amount of students labouring over theses on her life, work etc.,(of which I am unfortunately one..) are the result of her suicide? Would people agree that her death is the cause of her literary after-life? Is this compounded by the fact that Assia Wevill dies in the same manner? Also, I am interested in the book Rough Magic, by Paul Alexander which i have yet to obtain ( I live in Europe, it was banned by Hughes over here and is difficult to find) Is it any good?

    Dervla Gleeson
    Brussels, Belgium
    Tuesday, May 25, 1999

    Peter, there was a big article about the Iron Giant in my local paper this week, and the advance word on it is very good. Now, we all know who trustworthy buzz is! But the rumors are that this will be the surprise children's hit of the summer. Advance screenings for the "target audience," which is apparently the same audience as for "free Willy," have caught the movie studios by surprise, in that the audience really loved it. Ted Hughes didn't even get mentioned until the end of the article, which seems a shame since it's based on his writing. But anyway...I'll be going, along with my two young boys.

    Amy Rea
    Chanhassen, USA
    Tuesday, May 25, 1999

    About a week or so ago I reported that The Iron Giant by Ted Hughes was re-released in America and that a motion picture was soon coming. The film is set for release on 6 August 1999 in America.

    Peter Steinberg
    Alexandria, Virginia, USA
    Sunday, May 23, 1999

    Perhaps what Plath meant by abortion was spontaneous abortion, or miscarriage. The miscarriage she had is well-documented and shows up several times in her writing, and it was obviously a painful memory for her, as it is to most women who miscarry.

    Amy Rea
    Chanhassen, USA
    Saturday, May 22, 1999

    Paul Alexander, in Rough Magic, page 197, cites Kenneth Pitchford talking about a trip Sylvia Plath did to the States in September 1956 to have an abortion. Then the author adds: " years later, when she listed in her journal emotions and situations she had known - among them love, hate and madness - one she included was abortion".

    As far as I remember, the other biographies I read (Anne Stevenson, Linda Wagner-Martin and Ronald Hayman) don't mention the episode (or this trip to America).

    Arlindo Correia
    Lisbon, Portugal
    Friday, May 21, 1999

    As for Sylvia having had an abortion, I seem to remember one of the more recent biographies, Hayman or Alexander, including some insinuations of this. There were some pretty wild assertions, such as her coming back from England to NY just to have this abortion, then going back to England. Since the biographer had no documentation of this whatsoever, I pretty much dismiss it as speculation. It also seems unlikely that she wouldn't have dealt with that somewhere in her writing, as it certainly would have been a major event in her life, especially given the times.

    Amy Rea
    Chanhassen, USA
    Friday, May 21, 1999

    To Melissa Dobson back on the 13th: your writing "...Ted Hughes, who wrote a few very disturbing poems about crows" rings true w/ me. After I checked the 'Crow' book out of the college library, back around 1985, and read thru it I recall writing in my notebook, This book should be recommended to anyone seriously desiring suicide but needing one final motivation to push them over the edge. -- I've liked some of his other books though, including Birthday Letters, which I'm reading these days.

    Mark Sink
    SW VA, USA
    Thursday, May 20, 1999

    I think the abortion you mention may have actually been a miscarriage which occurred between the time of Frieda and Nicholas.

    She mentions losing the baby in Letters Home, dated Monday, Febrary 6, 1961 (p 476 in my Bantam copy), telling her mother to cancel the trip over and apologising for over-optimistic and excited.

    Ivy Imbuido
    Hobart, Tasmani, Australia
    Friday, May 21, 1999

    Did Sylvia Plath ever have an abortion? Some people say she did, but how come her journals and biographies don't say anything about it?

    Dedham, USA
    Thursday, May 20, 1999

    In pursuit of my non-Plathian interests I recently toured Cambridgeshire, England, and while in Cambridge I took the time to pursue my Plathian interests.

    Although I do not consider Plath a poet of place I feel that a sense of place helps one to identify the person in which one has a biographical, historical or literary interest.

    I felt that seeing Newnham College, Whitstead, 55 Eltisley Avenue and Grantchester Meadows helped to fit Plath the person, if not Plath the poet, into this townscape. Although I couldn't find Falcon Yard, nor did anyone I asked know where it was (can anyone help?), I visited St.Bololph's Church and St.Botolph's Lane, so I must have been in its proximity. I admit that I felt drawn to Grantchester Meadows, in the same way that I was drawn to Primrose Hill, and my imagination was fired by the thought that the earthenware head may still exist hidden in one of the willow trees virtually inaccessible on the opposite side of the river.

    I've just heard the audio-tape "Voices & Visions: Sylvia Plath", and hope to be able to obtain the video from my local bookshop if it's still available. Although Aurelia Plath, A.Alvarez, and the infamous Dido Merwin were recognizable I didn't recognize any of the other voices. I recognized too extracts from the Peter Orr interview and assumed that other extracts of Plath speaking were from one of the BBC radio broadcasts, "Two Of A Kind" perhaps? Am I right in thinking that `The Beekeeper's Daughter', `The Moon And The Yew Tree' and `Edge' were not read by Plath? If not, does anyone know who did read them?

    I need my daily `fix' of the Forum, though most of the time I keep my head below the parapet. I enjoy reading everyone's comments though am reluctant to comment myself on Plath's poetry, as I'm afraid I veer towards the simplistic and superficial. For instance, I liked Michelle's analysis of `Mirror' but I lack the imagination to see the pink speckles on the opposit wall as her subconscious, I can only think of it as the wallpaper reflected in the mirror.

    The fault is mine. I eschew analysis, partially through my own ignorance, and consider psycho-analysis anathema. Although I have nothing to support my contention I feel that Plath's interest in and reading of Freud, and the psycho-analysis she underwent did her more harm than good. It's an aspect of her life I don't feel comfortable about, I feel that something don't quite fit, as though to be critical of this process is unthinkable. It bothers me. Am I alone in this contention?

    Perhaps I'm missing much, if I don't read what is meant to be read how can I appreciate what I do read. But is the understanding of someone who writes necessarily the same understanding as someone who reads. Perceptions differ, but by whatever road we've travelled for a while we stand in the same place, some may see the sand, some may see the sea, some may see the sky, but we're all looking at the same thing.

    I love words, the sound of words, or the words as sound. Many have said that to hear Plath read her poems is to transform them, I am mesmerised by her voice and her words.
    Like a jigsaw the pieces fit perfectly, but they may not be the right pieces, the picture is a mass of texture and colour, pleasing to the eye, but not necessarily the picture on the box. As far as poetry is concerned I rely on my senses, not my intellect. If I disect the words, and probably I must, I may gain something, but I may lose some of the magic and mysticism that I may find in them now in my simplicity and ignorance. Or, if I may turn one of Lewis Carrol's quotations on its head, "Take care of the sounds, and the sense will take care of itself"

    In the introduction to "In Parenthesis" by David Jones, a work one may not know, T.S.Eliot writes:

    I think that sums up what I'm trying to say far better than I could ever hope to express it, and perhaps even simpler I could exhort the only direction that Dylan Thomas gave to his cast of readers assembled to read "Under Milk Wood", "Love the words, love the words".

    John Hopkins
    Bridgend, S.Wales, U.K.
    Thursday, May 20, 1999

    For those (Aussies) doing Plath research on her poetry, I have found a very slim volume which has published Stings: Original Drafts of the Poem in Facsimile Reproduced from the Sylvia Plath Collection at Smith College.

    This was exciting for me to view as I do not have the (financial) resources to view the Plath Collection (either at Smith or at the Lilly Library) personally.

    I was able to order the volume through InterLibrary Loan from Cairns Campus Library, James Cook University of North Queensland, ph (07) 4042 1032.

    It contains an analysis by Susan R. Van Dyne (author of the superb book, Revising Life), then the pink memoranda pages containing the drafts to Stings, and even a draftpage with Ted Hughes' writing (of his play The Calm) peeking through on the other side.

    If anybody else has read this book or Revising Life, let me know what you think about it.

    Cheers for now,

    Ivy Imbuido
    Hobart, Tasmani, Australia

    Dear Jan, There is, after all a reason for everything. Sylvia only resisted being a goth as they hadn't invented crimpers and Insette Spiky Hairspray at the time.

    Claire P.S; Southern Death Cult, March Violets, Sylvia maybe leading Ghost Dance.......? Enough, I fantasise!

    Claire Mobbs
    Le Vsinet, France
    18th May 1999

    Sylvia Plath and Tori Amos? Father Lucifer, miscarriages, death, rape, etc. -- or does the latter indulge in too many "cries of the heart"? A bit too provocative for sweater-suited Plath? I can imagine a lively, intense conversation between the two, more than any goth association. Although there are those gothic elements -- dreams, omens, a dead parent haunting her, rhetoric of sensation, wraiths, etc. Enough of this --

    Berkeley, CA, USA
    Tuesday, May 18, 1999

    Published this month is the 30th Anniversary Edition of Ted Hughes' The Iron Giant. It's a hardback book for children, kept with Intermediate Fiction. The cover price is $16.00 and should be discounted at least 10% in any good bookshop.

    Surprisingly, there is a silver sticker on the cover announcing that it will soon be made into a movie. I think it might be narrated by either Meg Ryan or David Beckham.

    Peter Steinberg
    Alexandria, Virginia, USA
    Tuesday, May 18, 1999

    I'm looking for information on "The Arrival of the Bee Box" If anyone can give me any sort of background information whatsoever.. (I've sort of looked at the poem and kinda guessed that it had something to do with civil war..?) could you please help?? Thank you!!!

    Melbourne, Australia
    Monday, May 17, 1999

    While the idea of Plath as Goth has a whimsical appeal, I don't find it very plausible. This was, after all, a woman who protested girls who violated the dress code at Smith College; even at the phase of her life when she was dabbling in mysticism, she was still every inch the sweater-set type. Take it from me, an almost-past-my-prime goth who still listens to my Siouxie and Sisters of Mercy CDs with embarassing regularity...

    Jan Watson Collins
    New York City, USA
    Monday, May 17, 1999

    Wow. That's all I can say. I just recently bought "Voice of the Poet: Sylvia Plath" from, and I highly, highly, recommend it to anyone on here. It's complete excellence. There are about 20 poems read by Sylvia Plath herself on the tape, some earlier ones, and some later. You can definitely hear the change in the voice from the earlier to the later. (I like side B better myself, it has Lady Lazarus, The Applicant, and Daddy on it, also, A Birthday Present (one of my favorites)) It is an unbelievable tape, and Sylvia's voice is astounding. Her accent is lovely and her voice surprisingly deep. I can't say enough how much i suggest purchasing this tape if you don't already have it. It's about $15.00(w/tax) on

    Daniel Lucy
    Grand Forks, ND, USA
    Monday, May 17, 1999

    Seriously, children, I'm afraid that it's evident that if Sylvia had been in the world of music, she would have been a Goth. Lady lazarus to the music of the Sisters of Mercy. Now that's what I call a good idea.

    Ex-goth and ex Hebden-Bridge resident

    Claire Mobbs
    Le Vsinet, France
    15th May 1999

    Sivvy recording her own Calypso album? Truly a loss to art. But say, since she can't do it herself, why don't we form a band and do it ourselves? Better late than never, I always say!

    Can't you just hear "Daddy" to a Calypso beat? Or how about a slow, seductive "The Moon and the Yew Tree." Amy

    Amy Rea
    Chanhassen, USA
    Friday, May 14, 1999

    Well, the big difference between Sylvia and Maya is that Sivvy never got to cut her own Calypso album, poor thing.

    Stewart Clarke
    New York, USA
    Thursday, May 13, 1999

    Tiara: Although Maya Angelou knows how the caged bird sings, Sylvia Plath actually became the bird. She whistled a few dark ditties, slipped through the gilded bars of her cage, and in a fit of avian poetess pique, gassed herself. Some say it was because of her estranged husband, Ted Hughes, who wrote a few very disturbing poems about crows. Maya Angelou lives on a farm in Georgia, I think, and continues to write movingly about various topics, including racial oppression and nature's majesty. Plath, of course, is dead, though she continues to rise, Phoenix-like, from these pages on a pretty much daily basis. Hope that helps!

    Melissa Dobson
    Newport RI, USA
    Thursday, May 13, 1999

    To Sam Newton: A Taroc is an old card game of Italy, Austria, etc.that includes the tarot cards (which are used in fortune-telling) as trumps. Note how the reference to "Taroc pack" ties in neatly with the previous line in Daddy: "With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck..." I've always wondered, however, why Plath chose to stagger the following line by writing "Taroc pack" twice. It's a strangely effective repetition, at any rate.

    Jan Watson Collins
    New York City, USA
    Thursday, May 13, 1999

    I'm writing a paper comparing and contrasting Maya Angelou and Sylvia Plath. Anyone have any ideas?

    NY, USA
    Wednesday, May 12, 1999

    Hello,all! I want to know means of metaphors -sylvia's poetry Send me E-mail please,if you know it.

    BOO-yong So
    Seoul, Korea
    Wednesday, May 12, 1999

    I've been examining the poem "Berck Plage" and trying to find themes within it for my A Level revision. I'm finding that although it covers many ideas about alienation, inability to communicate and society's perception of death discussed in other poems from the "Ariel" collection, I can discover no overall message or idea that would link all aspects of the poem together. It appears to be an exploration of Plath's feelings about a variety of issues and could almost be two or more poems entangled together. Am I right to think this or is there something I am missing?

    Susi B
    Goole, UK
    Tuesday, May 11, 1999

    There is now a Plath Forum discussion site in France. You can contact us at

    Je serais heureuse de recevoir tous que vous avez a dire au sujet de Sylvia Plath, soit en francais, soit en anglais

    I would love to hear what you have to say about Sylvia Plath, either in French or in English

    Donc, venez, discuter, disputer meme, mais surtout venir!!!

    So come, discuss, argue if you like, but above all come!!!!

    Claire Mobbs
    Le Vsinet, France
    11th May 1999

    I am an Italian teacher of English and I am presently helping a student who is writing a short dissertation on Sylvia Plath. Could you please give me some information on how to find a complete biography on the Web? Thank you very much. Mario Rizzi

    Mario Rizzi
    Tradate, Italy
    Tuesday, May 11, 1999

    In "Daddy" Plath mentions a Taroc Pack. What exactly is it? I am studying Plath as part of my A-Level English Lit so it would help if i could find out.

    Sam Newton
    Boston, England
    Tuesday, May 11, 1999

    I just want you all to know (in case you did not already) that on you can listen to an audiosample of Sylvia, reading out of her own work for 8 minutes. I just came across it and am really excited about it! You need 'realplayer'to listen to it.

    The Netherlands
    Tuesday, May 11, 1999

    I am a college sophmore studying poetry. I have chosen to explicate "Black Root in Rainy Weather" and am trying to figure out what she means by the "Black Rook." I have heard that her husband was a naturalist and that may explain the use of the imagery of the bird. However, the rest of the poem describes someone resigned to accept the reality of the emotional "rainy weather" we all encounter from time to time with the hope, even if in vain, of divine intervention. Is the rook a bird (crow)? Is it a shuckster, promising one thing but never delivering (is she referring to a God who does not help her?) Is it referring to the chess piece (castle) that protects its inhabitants. Somehow the emphasis on black as opposed to later references to light would indicate the shuckster but I've looked at this thing so much I think I'm grasping at anything. What is your imput???

    Jenni Keys
    Lake LA, CA, USA
    Tuesday, May 11, 1999

    I need help on understanding "Mirror" by Sylvia Plath. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Edith Nagel
    Los Angeles, USA
    Monday, May 10, 1999

    I've been away from the forum for a little while now and am glad to have more time to read the interesting postings provided here. I am writing a doctoral dissertation in philosophy that looks at philosophical questions that arise in Plath's poetry (4 specific works). I do not use her works to prove a philosophical theory (ie: this is not a work of aesthetics), rather I am open to what the specific works may have to teach us about philosophical questions, namely, questions about subjectivity, essences, and nihilism. I take a phenomenolgical approach that involves writing detailed notes on each poem (roughly 125 pages per poem). These are the evidence for my actual dissertation which will combine phenomenological descriptions (following Merleau-Ponty and Heidegger) of the broad lines of the poems (lines in the sense conveyed by visual artworks), how our bodies relate with the poems, what the poems show us about our everyday existence where we use instituted language rather than poetic language.

    I am working on the poem 'Mystic' right now and was wondering if my first entrances to the work that I describe are entrances other people find in the work. I was wondering if perhaps (if I may be so bold) 'Mystic' could be a poem people might like to discuss in the analyses provided of specific works on this site. Thanks for your time!

    Ellen Miller
    Toronto, Canada
    Saturday, May 8, 1999

    Over the weekend I picked up a copy of the Sylvia Plath version of the 'Voice of the Poet' series published by Random House audio books. This is a cassette tape of Sylvia reading her work (22 poems) and a booklet with a short bio and texts of the poems included on the cassette. Sylvia's recording of the poems took place on two occasions - April 15, 1958, in Massachusetts, with Ted by her side; and in London, October 30, 1962. If you have never heard Sylvia read the Ariel poems, I strongly urge you to get a copy of this "audiobook." I had heard an earlier recording of her work, and was struck by how measured and mature her voice sounded - I also hadn't realized how much of a Boston accent she had. There are 13 earlier poems included on the tape, recorded in 1958, and they are read by Sylvia in this same measured, correct tone and phrasing. The remaining 8 poems - the Ariel poems - are a revelation. The change in her voice, its strength, it's lack of pity, it's sly mocking sarcasm (esp. The Applicant), left me almost speechless. If you listen to the tape be sure to listen from the beginning to the end - I think it is important to establish her "earlier voice" in your head before you listen to the '62 recording. If there is no large bookstore near you, I'm sure you can find the audiobook on or B&

    Also, has anyone heard Ted Hughes' readings of his or others poems? I have a recording of him reading works by T.S. Eliot - I'm curious to know if anyone else thinks that Sylvia's earlier 'reading style' was influenced by Hughes - the cadences seem quite similiar to me...

    I am going to London next week and will be attending Ted Hughes memorial service. I'll try and post something about the service when I return, if anyone is interested.

    Detroit, USA

    I would love to set up a discussion site on Sylvia in France, so anyone who wants to contact me about this can do so at the above address.

    I discovered Sylvia when i was 14, and someone gave me a copy of The Bell Jar. Through that I discovered her poetry, and i can truthfully say that her writing has accompanied me throughout my life, in sadness as in joy, in elation and in depression, ondeaths and on the birth of my daughter, I believe that reactions to her work are more visceral than idly critical, more emotional than simple critique of language forms


    Claire Mobbs
    Le Vsinet, France
    7th May 1999

    Hello all,

    Can someone let me know the name of the woman who was Ted Hughes' date at the party where he and Sylvia met?


    I am writing a paper, not focusing specifically on plath, but rather on the theme of violence. i already have a few poems on rape, child abuse, incest, and war, but i have been searching for a good poem on self-mutiliation (violence on the self), and i thought perhaps plath might have a few. any suggestions? thanks a lot.

    New York, USA
    Tuesday, May 4, 1999

    Birthday letters was a revelation when it was published in 1998. it inspired me to delve further into the central figure of that text - sylvia plath. i am establishing a sylvia plath related website, and i welcome comments or contributions, in particular, any photographs of either plath, or places that she studied at / or visited during her all too brief life.

    philip gray
    Bedford, UK
    Tuesday, May 4, 1999

    I want to read THE BELL JAR, is it available in any library on line. please write me its address . Iam looking forward for reply IMPATIENTLY.

    Tehran, Iran
    Monday, May 3, 1999

    To Carol Petrone: I tend to eschew lit crit myself, but as a recent escapee of the postgraduate acadame, I must say that I don't think there's anything -wrong- with "old-hat" lit crit per se. There's nothing more annoying than scholars who fall all over themselves in an effort to mold unruly texts into their own rather flimsy constructs; I don't think your "master-slave" thesis falls into this category, though.

    I was wondering if you read the discussion that took place many months ago re: the parallels between Plath and Emily Dickinson (Amherst's "Madame de Sade.") or the Paglia essay on Dickinson which inspired the dialogue. You might find it provocative & somewhat helpful for your purposes.I read it recently when perusing the archives of this Forum; Stewart Clarke or Melissa Dobson, if either of them are reading this, might be able to tell you more about it.

    Jan Watson Collins
    New York City, USA
    Monday, May 3, 1999

    Today we went to visit Sylvia's grave. This is our second visit since moving to Hebden Bridge. I feel very saddened and even shocked at the state of her place of rest. It is unkempt and impoverished, so i have decided to take some grass clippers to tidy it up and perhaps some poppies...

    Hebden Bridge, West Yorks, UK
    Sunday, May 2, 1999

    Carol, I know how infuriating theses are and my own 'ground to a halt' about a year ago (but mainly due to teaching and admin commitments). I have been 'lurking' and following the Plath forum discussions for a number of months now and have been very stimulated by them (partic. in going back and reading Plath's poems - which is always a good thing!), Re: your master-slave idea - I think you are barking up the wrong tree myself and frankly, i think such an approach is old-hat/establishment rather than controversial (given my memories of lit-crit which I abandoned in 1994), But anyway, why not look at the Rival, Little Fugue, the ambiguities of Love Letter, Leaving Early, Phesant, Elm (I always loved Plath's 'transitional poetry'!) They seem to me to exemplify what you were getting at in your posting. The subjects of Plath's poetry always (well the 1960s stuff) find themselves wanting in front of the objects..

    I always thought she was a metaphysical poet, me-self! All the best with your work

    Cath Morgan
    Leeds, UK
    Sunday, May 2, 1999

    There is a review of Frieda Hughes new book at this website. It appeared April 25, 1999.

    One must register to use their archive, but there is no charge. Simply use the link to archive and use keyword Frieda Hughes.

    Miriam Korshak
    Houston Texas, USA
    Sunday, May 2, 1999

    It is now my turn, as daily reader and occasional contributor of this Forum, and also as the person who humbly asked young students to form their own opinions on Plath before asking for ours, to turn to the learned and erudite audience of this Forum for assistance. I know that all of your valuable opinions will help enormously, and I thank you in advance.

    My thesis has been plodding along successfully for many months, but now has come to an alarming snail's pace. In choosing my topic, Subjection and Domination in Plath - Life and Art, I knew I was perilously close to the controversial. And I enjoy the controversial, so my research so far (as well as personal observations) have been rewarding. Here's what I have focused on so far:

    There are "hints" (see Alvarez) as well as outright claims (see Mary Lynn Broe's stunning article in a 1994 "Belles Epoques") that the control (or mastership) in Plath's and Hughes' relationship vascillated between the two of them. I am not speaking of money-earning, or child-rearing here. I refer specifically to emotional, psychological and psychic dominance. (Or, if you will allow, the Master - Slave metaphor.) Since actual documentation is sparse on this topic, I am left to infer and theorize what I may from Plath's work -- which is, as you know, the whole point of a thesis. And I am using critical analyses by Kristeva, Freud, Butler, Benjamin, etc to support my inferences. My interpretations (or perhaps my imagination) are phenominally interesting, and I have gotten several pages of good "stuff" so far.

    For example, new readings of "The Rabbit Catcher" (along with earlier discussions of that poem in this Forum) reveal a dominant master (catcher) and entrapped subject (rabbit). "Sunday at the Mintons" (a short story in the "Johnny Panic" collection) describes disturbing revenge fantasies of a spinsterly woman subjected to the overbearing and dominant demands of her elderly brother. "The Jailer" suggests an enforced (and angry) domination (or victory) by a scorned woman. Other examples abound, some of which I have considered, and some of which are still out there waiting for me to discover. (I am trying desperately to avoid using "Daddy" and its comment about about women loving the boot of a brute, and "Lady Lazarus," whose speaker is the heroine of every budding feminist as she rises through the air and eats men like air.) I am looking for the obscure, the unrevealed, the never-thought-of-before.

    And that is where I need your assistance. I have long admired the readers of this Forum for their well-read and educated discussions on Plath. Hopefully, I have contributed some of my own. And I believe that many you have had thoughts on this subject, strange though it may be. If you have, I would be very grateful if you could share them.

    Carol Petrone
    Southfield, MI, USA
    Saturday, May 1, 1999

    I'm analyzing two poems, "Cinderella" and "Tulips" for a class project and am having difficulty finding the year in which they were written. If anyone has these dates, I'd appreciate it if you'd e-mail me. Thank you.

    Sacramento, USA
    Saturday, May 1, 1999

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    This forum is administered by Elaine Connell, author of Sylvia Plath: Killing The Angel In The House - second edition with new preface just out, December 1998. Elaine lives in Hebden Bridge, near where Sylvia Plath is buried and where Ted Hughes was born. Web Design by Pennine Pens. This forum is moderated - contributions which are inappropriate, anonymous or likely to offend may be edited or omitted.