The Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962
Edited by Karen V. Kukil
Published by Faber & Faber
2nd January 2014
An exact and complete transcription of the journals kept by Sylvia Plath during the last twelve years of her life.
Sylvia Plath kept a record of her life from the age of eleven until her death at thirty. The Journals are characterized by the vigorous immediacy with which she records her inner thoughts and feelings and the intricacies of her daily life. Apart from being a key source for her early writing, they give us an intimate portrait of the writer who was to produce in the last seven months of her life the extraordinary poems which have secured her reputation as one of the greatest of twentieth-century poets.
I first read Sylvia Plath, possibly like many others, while at university, when we had to study The Bell Jar. As with anyone whose life ends too early; in tragic circumstances, this seems to enhance our desire to know more about them and why they could not continue with life for any longer.
This book is an updated and revised edition of the Journals and now includes, for the first time, two of the journals sealed by Plath's former husband Ted Hughes in 1981 until 11th February 2013. These were unsealed by him shortly before his death in 1998. The only known journals that are not included are the two that Plath wrote in the last three years of her life. One disappeared, according to Hughes and the other, which Plath continued to write in only three days before her suicide, Hughes destroyed.
The journals, as you may expect, do not make for particularly easy reading. From the onset, in 1950, she is troubled by many things. As she follows in the path of a writing career, if anything, these doubts increase. The journals continue through her graduation, relationship with, and marriage to Ted Hughes, and the birth of her children Frieda and Nicholas.
This is a weighty tome, covering over 700 pages, and is complete with black and white photographs of Plath and her family. I couldn't read the book in one sitting but broke it up by reading sections of it, alongside with her poems which I felt gave it a better feel as to it's author. Can and do we learn any more about Sylvia Plath than we did before? Without the incorporation of the final two journals, whose to say but ultimately it was a life lived too shortly by one with such a talent as hers.
Miss Chapter x