Sylvia Plath

"The Bell Jar"

Sylvia Plath
October 6, 2000 3:47AM (UTC)

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) began publishing poems and stories by the time she entered Smith College in 1950. In 1955 she won a Fulbright Scholar in Cambridge University, where she met writer Ted Hughes, whom she married in 1956. Plath was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1982 for her Collected Poems. Her novel, "The Bell Jar," is a classic of American literature. This work chronicles the crackup of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, successful -- but slowly going under. Plath takes us with Esther through a month in New York as a contest-winning junior editor on a magazine. Her strained relationships eventually leading her to madness.

Such deep exploration of the psyche is rare in any novel. It points to the fact that "The Bell Jar" is a largely autobiographical work about Plath's own summer of 1953, when she was a guest editor at Mademoiselle and experienced a breakdown.


"McDormand gives a sensitive, intimate performance. Her dry, ironic tone, covering up for an undercurrent of fear, perfectly capturesthe character of Esther." -Billboard Magazine

Listen now to an excerpt of the Bell Jar, read by Frances McDormand and courtesy of HarperAudio.

Sylvia Plath

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