Journals of Sylvia Plath Published

from: Associated Press - March 18, 2000

LONDON (AP) - Nearly 40 years after the suicide of American poet Sylvia Plath, her complete journals are about to be published -- an event that her admirers hope will illuminate some of the dark corners of a turbulent life.

Excerpts from "The Journals of Sylvia Plath" will be serialized in The Guardian newspaper beginning today. The book will be published next month in London by Faber and Faber.

The diaries "contain a string of intimate disclosures that shed new light on the complexity of Plath's sexuality, her depression and her hatred of her mother," writes Katherine Viner of The Guardian.

"The picture Plath paints of early married life with her 'demigod' (poet Ted Hughes), 'the big, blasting, dangerous love,' is often passionate, sexy and loving -- more real than any attempts to describe it by others."

The first installment, beginning with the 1950 diary entry of an extremely talented 17-year-old, includes the 1956 account of her first meeting with Hughes -- who after her suicide in 1963, was vilified by many of Plath's fans.

Plath was 30 when she gassed herself in her kitchen a few months after Hughes had left her for another woman.

He became Britain's poet laureate and, until the last year of his life, said little in public about his marriage to Plath. Then in early 1998, months before he died of cancer, he published "Birthday Letters," a poetic account of their relationship that revealed the obvious depth of his love for her. Critics gave it rave reviews and the book sparked a reassessment of the famous Plath/Hughes relationship.

Hughes had had control over Plath's journals and allowed only a much-edited version to be published in 1982. The couple's children are now permitting publication of the journals in full. Hughes and Plath were in their 20s when they met at Cambridge University in England on Feb. 26, 1956.

Plath's journal entry for that date describes her first meeting, at a party, with "that big, dark, hunky boy ... whose name I had asked the minute I came into the room."

After drinking and talking, she said, "I was stamping and he was stamping on the floor, and then he kissed me bang on the mouth and ripped my hairband off, my lovely red hairband scarf, which has weathered the sun and much love, whose like I shall never again find, and my favorite silver earrings; hah, I shall keep, he barked. And when he kissed my neck, I bit him long and hard on the cheek, and when we came out of the room, blood was running down his face."

Viner says that in the incomplete journals, Hughes had edited out Plath's comment that he was "'the biggest seducer in Cambridge,' as well as suggestions that he was vain. Also removed were references to his depression and some mentions of their sex life.

Copyright (c) 2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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