Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath -- revisiting

So, I was determined to go through my challenges and see what I needed to start working on, and keeping track of ..... and found one of them required that I re-read two books assigned when I was in high school.   Hmm..... actually found it hard to remember any (other than Of Mice and Men, which I didn't feel like revisiting).   But then I remembered my sophomore year English teacher giving each one of us a book to read -- they were different for each of us, and I'm not sure what motivated his choices.  He gave me The Bell Jar (I still don't know why -- perhaps my teenage angst was that obvious??).

So, a few days ago, I re-read this book.   While I actually like some of Sylvia Plath's poetry quite a bit, this book has always rubbed me a little the wrong way.  I found it funny how some parts of it came back to me very clearly, and other parts I didn't remember at all.    Overall, it's an interesting book (and a classic of sorts -- there's a good article in Wikipedia about it), but the main character, Esther, gets on my nerves.  I understand it's not really her fault  -- she's descending into mental illness.    But I've never cared for her, or been especially sympathetic -- when I read this book, I'm somewhat interested in the story, and what's going to happen to her .... but I don't really care that much.   And frankly, because she's disturbed, being inside Esther's head in this story is disturbing.  It makes me uncomfortable.   But that's not necessarily a bad thing -- I don't mind if a book does that because it means it's doing what it's supposed to do.    However, I don't think I'll be revisiting this story again any time soon -- I'd rather revisit some of Plath's poetry, instead.  

On that note, I'll leave you with a poem I've always gotten a kick out of:  Metaphors by Sylvia Plath (it's cleverly constructed once you really start paying attention to it)
I'm a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.
Money's new-minted in this fat purse.
I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I've eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there's no getting off.


Whitney said...

I felt this way about Catcher in the Rye and had a "am I missing something" moment.

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