THE BELL JAR by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath is another one of the books that I’m kicking myself for not reading earlier in life so I could have been re-reading it as I went along. It’s a thinly fictionalized account, in which bright but not wealthy Esther Greenwood goes to a magazine internship for a month, works and parties, returns to the suburbs of Connecticut, loses touch with reality, attempts suicide and is institutionalized.

Part of why I think I avoided it was a perception of it as a depressing book. While it is about depression, and there are many dark parts, I don’t think it’s so much depressing as honest. Brutally honest, at times, and with a nasty streak of racism and ignorance of privilege in it, but often funny and wise.

I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.

Often dismissed as juvenilia, or an immature portrait of girlhood, I found it a fascinating work of art depicting struggles of class, sexism, and coming of age that continue to resonate all these decades later.

Comments are closed.