Sylvia

Friday, 8 October 2010

sylvia

There are times when a feeling of expectancy comes to me, as if something is there, beneath the surface of my understanding, waiting for me to grasp it (15).

How can I tell Bob that my happiness streams from having wrenched a piece out of my life, a piece of hurt and beauty, and transformed it to typewritten words on paper? How can he know I am justifying my life, my keen emotion, my feeling, by turning it into print? (22)

Read widely of others' experiences in thought and action - stretch to others even though it hurts and strains and would be more comfortable to snuggle back in the comforting cotton-wool of blissful ignorance! Hurl your goals above your head and bear the lacerations that come when you slip and make a fool of yourself (47).

Being born a woman is an awful tragedy. ... Yes, my consuming desire to mingle with road crews, sailors and soldiers, bar room regulars - to be a part of a scene, anonymous, listening, recording - all is spoiled by the fact that I am a girl, a female always in danger of assault and battery. My consuming interest in men and their lives is often misconstrued as a desire to seduce them, or as an invitation to intimacy. Yet, God, I want to talk to everybody I can as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night (77).

Why am I obsessed with the idea that I can justify myself by getting manuscripts published? Is it an escape - an excuse for any social failure - so I can say "No, I don't go out for many extra-curricular activities, but I spend a lot of time writing." Or is it an excuse for wanting to be alone and meditate alone, not having to brave a group of women? (Women in numbers have always disturbed me.) Do I like to write? Why? About what? (92-93)


I'm reading The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, and all of the above quotes are from her journals. I've read the abridged version before, this is a million times better.

Plath has been turned into a myth. But for me, the genius of her journals lies in the way they highlight how she was wholly a product of her times, and not a mythical, timeless entity. These journals convey a funny, intelligent, irreverent, serious, complex and warm human being, not a two-dimensional myth. There were times when I literally had to stop reading, despite my absorption, because it just hurt to see someone express thoughts I have had myself. I have collected a few images that I feel are appropriate companions to my own thoughts while reading Plath's.

Has anyone read her journals?

Image credits: 1. Sylvia Plath, 2. Untitled, 3. A room with a view, 4. Untitled, 5. Japanese star map, 6. Untitled, 7. Untitled, 8. Untitled, 9. Untitled.

22 comments:

Elsan said...

I haven't yet, and I would never have thought that I would, but I might now Hila.

Elsan said...

also, you have a thing about capital letters, which i only noticed when I posted my comment. Is there a particular reason? An old friend of mine stopped using capitals, and I know there are people who don't use them in their names. Just wondering, it's interesting and it looks good here, but is it about more than design?

hila said...

I'm glad to have converted you :) It's really quite funny too - she had the best sense of humour.

hila said...

it's borrowed from e.e. cumming's own refusal to use capital letters in some of his writing. I like this idea, because so much of my writing has to be formal and coded according to the wishes of other people (which is understandable), it's nice to have my own irreverent space in which the writing is more "me". Does that make sense?

Elsan said...

oh yes, that makes complete sense, maybe i will find a way to make some irreverent space in the future. for the time being writing anything is hard enough!

hila said...

ha, I hear you!

Miss amanda said...

I know nothing about Sylvia Plath but now i'm intrigued. Maybe I'll go on the hunt for one of her journals.

Joanna said...

Sylvia is everywhere these days, especially in light of the recent publicity surrounding Ted's poetic response to her suicide. I really ought to pick up her journals; I have a feeling I will be at once delighted and disturbed by them.

pRiyA said...

no, I haven't read her journals but after reading the quotes in this post i am going to. so far i know her as the myth.
when you said "i literally had to stop reading....
to see someone express thoughts i have had myself." i had to pause while reading the quotes too for the same reason.

Tracey said...

Your writing and worldly (and wordy) delicacy is wonderful ... very much enjoying your blog.

etre-soi said...

No, I haven't read her journals yet but plus her "The Bell Jar" and "Ariel" I've read "Wintering: a novel of Sylvia Plath" by Kate Moses have you read it ? It is so well writen and inspired by her journals, I loved it. This pictures define Sylvia so well.

Megan Champion said...

I first watch “Sylvia” when you reviewed it some time ago and since then I have loved reading her work. These journals sound wonderful, I will put them on my reading list.

Mary-Laure said...

I read her journals and her correspondence. Extraordinary insight into her.
Did you hear they just found a poem by Ted Hughes about her suicide? You can read about it here:
http://www.channel4.com/news/newly-discovered-ted-hughes-poem
I'm going to mention it on my blog on Sunday.

tywo said...

I haven't read her journals yet. But, I would love to. I love that there's so much truth, and reality in the quotes.
Have a good weekend.




LOVE!

Maura said...

I haven't yet read her journals, but these quotes are very much inspiring me to take them up. Beautiful finds as always, Hila, thank you for sharing!

Vanessa said...

Hello, love your blog and the fact that you're a Sylvia fan. People are too obsessed with her suicide and neglect her poems and writing I feel. Funnily, I became interested in her as a child when my mother wasn't feeling too good and asked me to choose a poem from an anthology. I chose one of Plath's which certainly didn't make her feel better. I read the Bell Jar earlier this year and loved it. The journals are on my shelves, waiting for me to get started and I think it's a good time.

Felix Curds said...

...no i have not read this but will have to now. the words are just beautiful as are the pictures. thank you for sharing:)

hila said...

I'm so glad some of you will pick up her journals now, this makes me happy :) And thanks as always for your kind comments.

Mary-Laure: I didn't hear about this, thank you!

ulla-maija pitkänen said...

the connection between plath and the pictures you have chosen is beautiful!

i read bell jar and we kept a little book discussion about the book. we made a journey to one sanitarium designed by alvar aalto. we discussed about the book surrounded by pine wood.

hila said...

sounds poetic :)

secret, fragile skies said...

exquisite blog. so happy to find you.

hila said...

why thank you.