I’m feeling very sorry for Sylvia Plath
When I began reading The Bell Jar the first feelings I had were my quite frequent ‘modern life is rubbish’ ones, as I wanted to be a young woman in New York in the 1960s, staying in a nice hotel with lots of other young women there on a writing/fashion scholarship prize, having lunches and going to parties. It’s like the mirror of The Devil Wears Prada, everyone is nice to her and she eats as much food as she can.
Then it all goes rather wrong, and I’m about halfway through, quite happy my life is not a replication of this Sylvia’s semi-autobiographical novel. But that doesn’t stop it from being beautiful, stunningly so. The main point that keeps hitting me again and again is the candour. This book is so bursting with truth, at its publication Keats must have given it some very fervent nods from poet heaven. Sylvia opens herself so honesty, it’s impossible not to care about her. A quick ‘Sylvia Path’ Google images search contains so many pictures involving ovens it’s just unreal. Not just actual, graphic photos, but arty staged ones and even Halloween costumes with one friend dressed a cardboard oven, and the other as Sylvia.
I think it’s bad enough this poor women went through what she did, to then be played by Gwyneth Paltrow, to now be a Halloween costume, well, it sucks. Unfortunately, suicide is rather like missing a penalty in a world cup or announcing you’re the son of god on a TV talk show, it becomes a headline to your life that takes a long time to get past, but alas with suicide, there’s no opportunity to live it down.
So, I have found less-suicidally dismal pictures. Firstly, many of you will know this, but below is a picture of a bell jar. My grandmother had tons of these, as like many people born in the shadow of Victorian and Edwardian objet d’art (tat! Clutter!) hoarding, she needed to keep the dust off that crap. I distinctly remember even her pot-pourri was imprisoned in a dome, preserving the smell, protecting it from dust, but defeating the whole bloody point. And then a very happy looking picture of Sylvia and her husband Ted Hughes and a baby where they both look genuinely happy, and no amount of Paltrow and ovens can taint that.