Sylvia Plath's Journals Detailed

from: Associated Press - March 21, 2000

by Mara D. Bellaby, Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP) - Years before her 1963 suicide, American poet Sylvia Plath told her psychiatrist that she hated her mother, blaming her for her father's death -- and the confession made her feel "terrific," she wrote in diary entries published Tuesday. The diaries, serialized in London's The Guardian newspaper this week and due to be published in full for the first time next month, provide new details about Plath's troubled life and her turbulent marriage to British poet Ted Hughes. Plath gassed herself in her kitchen at the age of 30 a few months after Hughes left her for another woman.

At the time of her death in 1963, Plath had just one book published under her name. But a decade later, she was considered a feminist martyr, the mourned and beloved author of the "Ariel" poems and the novel "The Bell Jar."

In the third and final installment of extracts from "The Journals of Sylvia Plath", The Guardian published Tuesday a long entry dated Dec. 12, 1958, where Plath wrote about a counseling session with psychiatrist Dr. Ruth Beuscher.

Describing it as better than "shock treatment," Plath said the psychiatrist gave her permission to hate her mother. "'I hate her, doctor.' So I feel terrific," Plath wrote.

Plath's mother, Aurelia, raised the writer and her brother, Warren, after their father died in 1940 from complications brought on by diabetes.

"She came home crying like an angel one night and woke me up and told me Daddy was gone, he was what they called dead, and we'd never see him again, but the three of us would stick together and have a jolly life anyhow, to spite his face," Plath wrote. "Me, I never knew the love of a father, the love of a steady blood-related man after the age of eight. My mother killed the only man who'd love me steady through life."

Plath admitted her mother had a "lousy life" and said she felt pity for her. "But that is only pity. Not love," Plath added. "I hate her because he wasn't loved by her," Plath wrote. "He was an ogre. But I miss him. He was old, but she married an old man to be my father. It was her fault. Damn her eyes."

According to her journals, the counseling session also explored Plath's relationship with Hughes, whom she met at Cambridge University in England and married in 1956. After her death, Hughes, who later became Britain's poet laureate, was demonized by some Plath fans. His name was even chipped off her tombstone. After saying little about their marriage, Hughes died from cancer in 1998. Only months before his death, he published ``Birthday Letters," a poetic -- and often touching -- account of their relationship that has led many to re-evaluate the famous pair.

Plath wrote that her psychiatrist asked if she would have the "guts to admit you'd made a wrong choice?" "In a husband. I would," Plath said. "But nothing in me gets scared or worried at this question. I feel good with my husband ...

What is only pieces, doled out here and there to this boy and that boy, that made me like pieces of them, is all jammed together in my husband. So I don't want to look around any more: I don't need to look around for anything."

The Guardian's extracts conclude with the last line from Plath's surviving journals. Dated Nov. 15, 1959, Plath wrote: "A bad day.

A bad time." Her last journal, which Plath kept until three days before her death, was destroyed by Hughes, who said he did not want their children to have to read it.

After Plath's death, Hughes maintained control over her journals and permitted only a much-edited version to be published in 1982.

The couple's children are now permitting publication of the complete diaries.

"The Journals of Sylvia Plath," edited by Karen V. Kukil, will be published on April 3.

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

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