Archive for November 3rd, 2011

by lizard

I had no idea how much I didn’t know about the relationship between Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath until tonight. I had been somewhat familiar with Plath’s poetry and her tragic suicide on February 11, 1963, from being assigned The Bell Jar in high school (Plath’s only novel published in the UK one month before her suicide), but I had no idea her husband was a notable poet as well, and that he became a vilified figure after his wife’s death.

In trying to piece this post together, I ran across this article from Slate, first published in March of 1998. Here’s the introduction:

In 1963, the 30-year-old poet Sylvia Plath killed herself, placing her head on a folded cloth inside an oven and turning on the gas. Posthumously, Plath became a feminist icon. A slew of memoirs and biographies argued that the arrogance of her macho husband Ted Hughes, Britain’s current poet laureate, precipitated her suicide. For 35 years, Hughes maintained a calculated silence about Plath’s death. Last month, he finally published his side of their story in Birthday Letters–an autobiographical collection of 88 poems, written over 25 years. Hughes’ friends predicted the book would exculpate him and silence his critics. But the debate remains as shrill as ever. What is the case against Hughes? How have Hughes’ opponents and proponents exploited Birthday Letters?

I haven’t read Birthday Letters, but I have read the last collection of poems Sylvia Plath wrote before killing herself, Ariel, and it’s only because I pulled that book off the shelf tonight that I ended up writing this post. Here is a poem with serious teeth: Continue Reading »

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