by Sylvia Plath

Reviewer Rating:


Sylvia Plath's collection Ariel was posthumously edited and published by her husband, Ted Hughes, in the 1960s in two separate editions (first in the UK and then in the US). 2004 saw the release of this restored edition, which rearranges the manuscript according to Plath's original outline. Other sections reveal insight into Plath's creative process and her descriptions when she read her notes for a BBC broadcast.

The foreword by Plath's daughter, Frieda Hughes, sheds a lot of light on Plath's life and the difficulties her family has endured as a result of her mother's suicide. Hughes argues her parents were only human: her mother was not a saint and her father was not a villain.

The poems themselves were mostly written in the last months of Plath's life. Her poems are very personal, sometime impenetrable to someone with virtually no poetic training. Even when they didn't make sense to me, I could still feel their power. When I understood the underlying narrative, I was in awe: the language is dense but spot-on, the emotions are palpable, and the imagery is deft. I think the public perception of Plath tends toward someone weak, but Ariel proves the power and the fury she could produce.

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