From the back: "The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood; brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under- maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that Esther's insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic."
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath is a "semi-autobiography", originally written under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. Plath is know for her poetry. The Bell Jar is her one novel (all other compilations of her letters and journals were published posthumously). Shortly after its publication, Plat committed suicide by blocking off the doors and window frames in her kitchen and turning on the gas stove. It is under great debate whether she intended to fully go through with the suicide; a note stating "call Dr Gordon" suggests she wanted someone to find her before the very end, yet the autopsy reveals that Sylvia actually stuck her head inside the oven. Sylvia's suicide will always be under speculation. Literature lost an amazing artist that fateful day.
The novel is beautifully written and thrusts the reader deep into the madness of Esther. Esther describes her predicament as living under a bell jar- where the air is stale and she can't break free. Falling deeper and deeper into her own despair, Esther's trials mirror those of Sylvia. Interning at a magazine in NYC, breaking down and suicide attempts were all a part of Sylvia's life- which to me is why the novel is so well written- it boarders on memoir. Much of the novel is obviously embellished for literary reasons, but the backbones are built around the truth of Sylvia's life.
..from page 77.... "I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and one by one they plopped to the ground at my feet."
I feel that that passage might be the most inspiring and well written piece of the book. It just makes sense - especially to me - someone who not too long ago was coming off of a time wondering what to do with my career, where to move and generally wanting it all. Esther was so unsure of herself, and with so many expectations put upon her from her mother, they began to smother her and the bell jar was slowly closing in around her, leaving her gasping for breath.
Overall, I LOVED this book. I read it fairly quick (for me) while enjoying the last bit of sunshine that New York has to offer. (I swear it rained every single day at one point or another)
I've begun Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl by former city slicker Susan McCorkindale. So far, I love it. I can relate and it is laugh out loud funny.