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Representing Sylvia Plath


Sally Bayley, Tracy Brain, Jonathan Ellis, Anita Helle, Lynda K. Bundtzen, Steven Gould Axelrod, Laure de Nervaux-Gavoty, Kathleen Connors, Luke Ferretter, Suzie Hanna, Kate Flatt
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  • Date Published: August 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107006751

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About the Authors
  • Interest in Sylvia Plath continues to grow, as does the mythic status of her relationship with Ted Hughes, but Plath is a poet of enduring power in her own right. This book explores the many layers of her often unreliable and complex representations and the difficult relationship between the reader and her texts. The volume evaluates the historical, familial and cultural sources which Plath drew upon for material: from family photographs, letters and personal history to contemporary literary and cinematic holocaust texts. It examines Plath's creative processes: what she does with materials ranging from Romantic paintings to women's magazine fiction, how she transforms these in multiple drafts and the tools she uses to do this, including her use of colour. Finally the book investigates specific instances when Plath herself becomes the subject matter for other artists, writers, film makers and biographers.

    • The first volume to place artistic and critical responses to Plath's work alongside one another
    • The book will be of interest to multiple disciplines including American and English literature and culture, poetics, women's studies and twentieth-century literature
    • This systematic evaluation of the problem of representation will appeal to all readers with an interest in Plath
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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2011
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107006751
    • length: 264 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • contains: 22 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: 'Purdah' and the enigma of representation Sally Bayley and Tracy Brain
    Part I. Contexts:
    1. 'Mailed into space': on Sylvia Plath's letters Jonathan Ellis
    2. 'The photographic chamber of the eye': Plath photography, and the post-confessional muse Anita Helle
    3. 'O the tangles of that old bed': fantasies of incest and the 'Daddy' narrative in Ariel Lynda K. Bundtzen
    4. Plath and torture: cultural contexts for Plath's imagery of the Holocaust Steven Gould Axelrod
    Part II. Poetics and Composition:
    5. 'The trees of the mind are black, the light is blue': sublime encounters in Sylvia Plath's tree poems Sally Bayley
    6. Coming to terms with colour: Plath's visual aesthetic Laure de Nervaux-Gavoty
    7. Madonna (of the refrigerator): mapping Sylvia Plath's double in 'The Babysitters' drafts Kathleen Connors
    8. 'Procrustean identity': Sylvia Plath's women's magazine fiction Luke Ferretter
    Part III. Representation:
    9. Confession, contrition, and concealment: evoking Plath in Ted Hughes's 'Howls and Whispers' Lynda K. Bundtzen
    10. Fictionalising Sylvia Plath Tracy Brain
    11. Primary representations: three artists respond to Sylvia Plath
    Adolescent Plath - 'the girl who would be God' Suzie Hanna
    Bodily imprints: a choreographic response to Sylvia Plath's Poppy Poems Kate Flatt (with Sally Bayley)
    Stella Vine's peanut crunching Plath Sally Bayley

  • Editors

    Sally Bayley, University of Oxford
    Sally Bayley is Lecturer in English at Balliol College, Oxford. She is co-editor of Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath and the Art of the Visual (2007); and author of Home on the Horizon: America's Search for Space, From Emily Dickinson to Bob Dylan (2010).

    Tracy Brain, Bath Spa University
    Tracy Brain is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Bath Spa University. Her book, The Other Sylvia Plath, was published in 2001. She is the author of Dangerous Confessions: The Problem of Reading Sylvia Plath Biographically (2006), Sylvia Plath's Letters and Journals (2006) and Unstable Manuscripts: The Indeterminacy of the Plath Canon (2007). Her essay, 'Ted Hughes and Feminism', will appear in The Cambridge Companion to Ted Hughes (2011).


    Sally Bayley, Tracy Brain, Jonathan Ellis, Anita Helle, Lynda K. Bundtzen, Steven Gould Axelrod, Laure de Nervaux-Gavoty, Kathleen Connors, Luke Ferretter, Suzie Hanna, Kate Flatt

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