I’ve been fascinated with Sylvia Plath since my college days in the early 1970s, when I first read her startling poems, “Lady Lazarus” and “Daddy,” in a lit class. Shortly thereafter, I read her novel, The Bell Jar, and her posthumous poetry collection, Ariel. I wrote my senior honors thesis about Plath, without knowing much about her except that the poems and the novel were highly autobiographical.
Plath was catching on like a rock star at that time, especially among young students. The novel had been released in 1963 in England, where she was living, shortly before her death by suicide. It had been turned down for publication in the United States, but a few bootlegged copies eventually arrived on these shores, and created a demand for it that the publishing industry couldn’t ignore.
Why did this story appeal to college students in particular? It’s the tale, thinly disguised as…
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