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The Bell Jar (Modern Classics) by Sylvia Plath, Harper Perennial Modern Classics

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The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under -- maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that Esther's insanity becomes completely ... Download Link : readbux.com/download?i=0060837020              0060837020 The The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under -- maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that Esther's insanity becomes completely ... Download Link : readbux.com/download?i=0060837020              0060837020 The Bell Jar (Modern Classics) PDF by Sylvia Plath Read The Bell Jar (Modern Classics) PDF from Harper Perennial Modern Classics,Sylvia Plath Download Sylvia Plath's PDF E-book The Bell Jar (Modern Classics)


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The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under -- maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that Esther's insanity becomes completely ... Download Link : readbux.com/download?i=0060837020              0060837020 The The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under -- maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that Esther's insanity becomes completely ... Download Link : readbux.com/download?i=0060837020              0060837020 The Bell Jar (Modern Classics) PDF by Sylvia Plath Read The Bell Jar (Modern Classics) PDF from Harper Perennial Modern Classics,Sylvia Plath Download Sylvia Plath's PDF E-book The Bell Jar (Modern Classics)

30 review for The Bell Jar (Modern Classics) by Sylvia Plath, Harper Perennial Modern Classics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Madeleine

    I feel like I owe Sylvia Plath an apology. This is a book I actively avoided for years because so many people (namely female classmates who wanted to be perceived as painfully different or terminally misunderstood or on the verge of absolutely losing their teenage shit) lauded the virtues of this book and how it, like, so totally spoke to them in places they didn't even know they had ears. My own overly judgmental high-school self could not accept even the remote possibility of actual merit lurk I feel like I owe Sylvia Plath an apology. This is a book I actively avoided for years because so many people (namely female classmates who wanted to be perceived as painfully different or terminally misunderstood or on the verge of absolutely losing their teenage shit) lauded the virtues of this book and how it, like, so totally spoke to them in places they didn't even know they had ears. My own overly judgmental high-school self could not accept even the remote possibility of actual merit lurking between the covers of something that such bland, faux-distraught ninnies clung to like a life raft. I should probably also apologize for referring to every pair of oven mitts I've ever owned as a pair of Sylvias but I think the lady scribe in question was too mired in real problems to care all that much about my sick amusement's crass reduction. "The Bell Jar," packed as it was with bleak truths, difficult topics and wryly dark humor, was not at all what I was expecting. Old biases die hard: I couldn't help but brace myself for a trivial tribute to mental imbalances, White Girl Problems and petty complaints disguised as life-ruining moments. What I got was an utter lack of histrionics and a sincere, to-the-point road map of one talented young lady's fight against her inner demons. Sylvia's alter ego Esther Greenwood (let's all take a second to appreciate the sly cleverness of trading "Sylvia" for the fictional surname "Greenwood") is so straightforward in addressing her despair that I couldn't help but extend more sympathy than I thought I could muster to her understated suffering. If nothing else, this book taught me that my own bouts of the blues are simply me being human and could be so much more debilitating: For that clarity of self-awareness alone, I am grateful. Reading this as I neared the "Infinite Jest" finish line offered necessary perspective that helped me get a better idea of what it must have been like inside such a messy head. The relative ease with which IJ's depressed cast could self-medicate in secret or seek refuge where at least someone was trying to understand the extent of such gaping psychological wounds offered a jarring contrast to the way Sylvia/Esther seemed truly isolated from those who couldn't see how awful it was to live inside herself. While she encountered precious little understanding in both her personal life (Mrs. Greenwood's inability to see her daughter's problem as her daughter's problem instead of wondering what she did wrong just rubbed my modern sensibilities the wrong way) and from the medical professionals who were tasked with helping her rise above the sinking despair she couldn't escape, I finished this fictionalized semi-autobiography 50 years after its publication with a keener understanding of what Sylvia Plath endured than I'm comfortable with.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Scarlet

    There is this scene in Chapter 10 of The Bell Jar where Esther Greenwood decides to write a novel. "My heroine would be myself, only in disguise. She would be called Elaine. Elaine. I counted the letters on my fingers. There were six letters in Esther, too. It seemed a lucky thing." I cannot help wondering, is that what Sylvia Plath thought when she wrote The Bell Jar? Did she, like Esther, sit on a breezeway in an old nightgown waiting for something to happen? Is that why she chose the name E There is this scene in Chapter 10 of The Bell Jar where Esther Greenwood decides to write a novel. "My heroine would be myself, only in disguise. She would be called Elaine. Elaine. I counted the letters on my fingers. There were six letters in Esther, too. It seemed a lucky thing." I cannot help wondering, is that what Sylvia Plath thought when she wrote The Bell Jar? Did she, like Esther, sit on a breezeway in an old nightgown waiting for something to happen? Is that why she chose the name Esther? 6 letters - just like in Sylvia. For luck? It's impossible to read The Bell Jar and not be affected, knowing what happened to Plath. I mean, it's everywhere. She is everywhere. All of Esther's musings are Plath's own. It's eerie. There's hardly any comfort even when Esther is freed from the bell jar; on the contrary, it's a brutal reminder that this book is ultimately, part fiction. Plath's poetic prowess shows through her writing - especially the descriptions. They are so simple yet so fitting. There is one in particular I loved, where Esther compares her life to a fig tree (See the first status update). Here's another: "I saw the years of my life spaced along a road in the form of telephone poles, threaded together by wires. I counted one, two, three...nineteen telephone poles, and then the wires dangled into space, and try as I would, I couldn’t see a single pole beyond the nineteenth." The writing is remarkably unemotional and I don't mean that as a bad thing. Esther's (or Plath's?) commentary dwells entirely on thoughts and perceptions, never feelings. Depression is so often mistaken as a form of sadness. This woman, however, is not sad. She is empty. She is a shell. She contemplates killing herself with a kind of ease that's unnerving. The Bell Jar did not make me cry but I wish it did. What I'm left with now is a deep sense of unhappiness that I don't think tears can fix. Why is it that the most talented always fall prey to the bell jar? It's such a waste.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ariel

    “I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer na “I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” Phenomenal. Please read it. It's impeccable. Note: it definitely shows it's age with some racist descriptions of things which was a bummer and reminded me how lucky we are to live in 2020

  4. 5 out of 5

    emma

    i did not know that if you're mentally ill you're allowed to be mean and annoying. i wish i had done things differently. i do get why this is a classic. some reasons it is, in order of niceness to not niceness: -it is very beautifully written -that fig paragraph is probably one of the best passages on what it is to be a mentally ill young woman ever brought into this world -it is, in many ways, ahead of its time -sylvia plath has the kind of compelling story that would have sealed her canonical fate i did not know that if you're mentally ill you're allowed to be mean and annoying. i wish i had done things differently. i do get why this is a classic. some reasons it is, in order of niceness to not niceness: -it is very beautifully written -that fig paragraph is probably one of the best passages on what it is to be a mentally ill young woman ever brought into this world -it is, in many ways, ahead of its time -sylvia plath has the kind of compelling story that would have sealed her canonical fate whether she was talented or not. -and: this is often, as it was in my case, assigned reading for teenage girls, the people most likely to be willing to undergo the kind of self-centering it would take to think most of what's depicted in this book is an okay or acceptable way to be. when i first read this, i liked it. i was 18, it should be noted, and a senior in high school fresh off the then-worst year of my life. (it has since been soundly defeated.) anyway, i didn't know classic fiction could be like this: written by a woman, fresh and relatable, about someone like me. that wasn't my experience upon reread. in the intervening years, i've read some of plath's poetry in other classes, and found it a little gaudy and self-indulgent for my taste. (you can yell at me if you want to but i don't think either of those are untrue. or even really insults.) so i always wondered if the bell jar would hold up if i read it again. the answer: no, but not for any reason i expected! this is racist and homophobic as f*ck. it's genuinely disturbing. this was written in the second half of the 20th century, in the midst of the civil rights movement. the march on washington took place in the same year as this book's publication. among legitimate intellectual and/or progressive circles of the time, this manner of thinking is grotesquely out of line. it seems especially absurd in the face of plath's dogged dedication to the Rights Of Women. feminism is important, of course, but reading about how the greatest social issue in plath's eyes (or the eyes of plath's self-insert protagonist) was women being able to be writers and editors with as much ease as they could be secretaries (as opposed to the several editors and writers there were) is kind of insane. obviously employment access is crucial, but the lack of self-awareness is apparent, no? this also has two of my least favorite clichéd traits of mental health depiction: 1) a protagonist that blames everyone else for their mental illness, and 2) Grand Gestures Of Depression. baby, i wish my mental illness included me doing things like whimsically throwing shirts at the city of new york while my hair blew in the wind. it's usually a lot more of me laying in bed and watching tiktoks. i guess that doesn't fit the seminal work criteria. in short: i love unlikable protagonists. it's just that i hated this one. bottom line: we all have an unpopular opinion, right? a beloved book we hate? let me have this one in peace. -------------------- currently-reading updates rereading this on the beach so i can be the edgiest girl there

  5. 5 out of 5

    karen

    there once was a girl from the bay state who tried to read finnegan's wake. it made her so ill, she took loads of pills. james joyce has that knack to frustrate. come to my blog! there once was a girl from the bay state who tried to read finnegan's wake. it made her so ill, she took loads of pills. james joyce has that knack to frustrate. come to my blog!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    I've never shied away from depressing material, but there's a difference between the tone serving the story, and a relentlessly depressing work that goes entirely nowhere. I know it can be viewed as a glimpse into Plath's mind, but I would rather do a lot of things, some quite painful, than read this again. It hurt to get through it, and I think it's self-indulgent and serves no real artistic purpose. Which is truly a shame, as I love a lot of Plath's poetry. I've never shied away from depressing material, but there's a difference between the tone serving the story, and a relentlessly depressing work that goes entirely nowhere. I know it can be viewed as a glimpse into Plath's mind, but I would rather do a lot of things, some quite painful, than read this again. It hurt to get through it, and I think it's self-indulgent and serves no real artistic purpose. Which is truly a shame, as I love a lot of Plath's poetry.

  7. 4 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    “To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream.” It had been a number of years since I last read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. What I’d remembered most was how well Plath had established the mood for this story by weaving the electrocutions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg with the mental breakdown of her heroine, Esther Greenwood. But the story is definitely about Esther, her ambition, and her own feelings of inadequacy, even though (viewed from the “To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream.” It had been a number of years since I last read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. What I’d remembered most was how well Plath had established the mood for this story by weaving the electrocutions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg with the mental breakdown of her heroine, Esther Greenwood. But the story is definitely about Esther, her ambition, and her own feelings of inadequacy, even though (viewed from the outside) Esther would be seen as a success. What is amazing about this writing is its immersive quality; you feel Esther’s restrictive choices and alienation from her world because you ultimately realize the world she has been striving for was never in her grasp. The repeated questions (after she is being treated for her depression) about who will marry her now only reinforce the notion that for the intelligent and talented Esther Greenwood, there had never been a good way to extricate herself from a trap that she had always seen coming. Very compelling narrative!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    My dad went mad in the early seventies when my mom filed for divorce and took up with another man after 12 yrs of marriage. He ended up in a place called Glenn Eden here in Michigan and went through a dozen or more electric shock treatments, I remember visiting him through a window from outside the place. He eventually recovered and remarried, led a normal life, but this book was kind of frightening to me, remembering that time, the atmosphere of such a place, and the stigma of mental illness. I My dad went mad in the early seventies when my mom filed for divorce and took up with another man after 12 yrs of marriage. He ended up in a place called Glenn Eden here in Michigan and went through a dozen or more electric shock treatments, I remember visiting him through a window from outside the place. He eventually recovered and remarried, led a normal life, but this book was kind of frightening to me, remembering that time, the atmosphere of such a place, and the stigma of mental illness. I myself suffer and am on meds, but never have I felt suicidal, I just don’t understand that frame of mind. Esther (Sylvia), I identified with her on some of her feelings, she was quite humorous, and I am sure that in the 50’s, it was very hard to live with such terrible depression. The writing was so good, I was feeling her. Hard to read knowing what eventually happened to her, but I’m glad I finally did read it. I’m sure many of us at times feel we are stuck under the bell jar.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Luís

    Extremely beautiful and powerfully poignant. The Bell Jar is the autobiographical story of a young girl with Esther's future (but shouldn't we say, Sylvia?). The young winner of a literary talent competition discovers New York, its parties, demands, and futility. But at the same time, Esther becomes aware of her cruel maladjustment. Her personality cracks through twists and turns and lets us glimpse the drama on her return home. Carried away by a furious melancholy, her character crumbles. Unable Extremely beautiful and powerfully poignant. The Bell Jar is the autobiographical story of a young girl with Esther's future (but shouldn't we say, Sylvia?). The young winner of a literary talent competition discovers New York, its parties, demands, and futility. But at the same time, Esther becomes aware of her cruel maladjustment. Her personality cracks through twists and turns and lets us glimpse the drama on her return home. Carried away by a furious melancholy, her character crumbles. Unable to get up, she catches herself in the frightening whirlwind of the psychiatric world. A tour de force that this novel and one feels well behind Sylvia Plath's poetic soul renders with great accuracy the runaway of her thoughts, their confusions, and the loss of her momentum. It's very well written but very accurate, and it is impressive to see how the language conveys Esther's mood and progression into madness. There are no big flights, no wrong notes; it's both testimony and almost a farewell letter.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Petra X 95% hiatus, no time for play just work

    Update I had a PM slagging me off completely about this review. Essentially it came down to how dare I criticise a feminist cultural icon who suffered from mental illness and accuse her of racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia. And if she really was why has no one else pointed it out? That I am biased as fuck etc. Actually others have pointed it out. Are those with depression and cultural icons to be excused moral standards? That was the point of my review, separating the artist from their work. Update I had a PM slagging me off completely about this review. Essentially it came down to how dare I criticise a feminist cultural icon who suffered from mental illness and accuse her of racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia. And if she really was why has no one else pointed it out? That I am biased as fuck etc. Actually others have pointed it out. Are those with depression and cultural icons to be excused moral standards? That was the point of my review, separating the artist from their work. But now it is also, why are differing views not allowed? I realise that we are living in the times where belief and feelings are considered much more important than science, where democratic voting is wrong and illegal if the 'wrong party' (US) or Brexit or Scottish Independence (UK) don't go the way that people want. And that any dissension results in deplatforming, cancelling or immense campaigns of hatred against academic and public figures. Is this the right way to go? No dissension, no debate, facts are wrong if they don't fit feelings, and cultural icons for one movement or another can do no wrong? __________ How do we separate the artist from their art if we blithely don't notice it and then excuse them with saying it was a product of their times? (view spoiler)[It often wasn't. Dickens is excused his anti-Semitism but Disraeli was a two-time Prime Minister and was born Jewish. Oscar Wilde despite his poem in Reading Jail angry at being castigated for being a homosexual, still threw himself behind the anti-Dreyfusards who blamed Drefus for a murder he didn't commit but was blamed because he was Jewish. He was in the minority in the UK and lost his best friend over this. And then you have Roald Dahl, Agatha Christie, Ernest Hemingway, Jack London - the White supremacist who advocated genocide of the 'lesser races' but is a school favourite - and all the other racist, anti-Semitic often misogynist authors whose art is praised and characters white-washed ('white' washed indeed!) (hide spoiler)] With Plath, whose book Bell Jar I read in my teens, when I read this today, July 6th, 2022, it absolutely shocked me The Oxford Blue How could I not have noticed or forgotten? Am I so inured and hardened to White supremacist thinking - everyone else is 'other', and when I read I am just white not other, that when reading a much-lauded 'great' author my eyes are blinded? *"[W]e cannot discuss Sylvia Plath without approaching the subject of her blatant racism and disrespect for Black people and Jewish people." *"Her poems crassly compare her suffering to that of the Holocaust and beyond her fiction, Plath’s diaries dating back to her high school years show a history of hateful and disrespectful white supremacist thinking." *"The viciousness of her comments about Jewish and Black people and the insensitive comparisons of her own struggles to those of the victims of the Holocaust show her to be completely out of touch with the era of progressive and civil rights activism" in which she lived and obviously didn't agree with. As another article says, you cannot understand Plath if you don't understand her very Germanic upbringing by the German father she loved and whose death she was never able to get over. In her diary, in 1958, she wrote of her father, "He … heiled Hitler in the privacy of his home." Or maybe I didn't notice because I only read The Bell Jar and not Plath's poetry, I certainly would have picked it up from It stuck in a barb wire snare. ich, ich, ich, ich, I could hardly speak I thought every German was you. And the language obscene. An Engine, an engine Chuffing me off like a jew. A jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen I began to talk like a jew I think I may well be a jew. I don't say I wouldn't read these authors or even enjoy their works - I love Oscar Wilde and certain Roald Dahl books - but I think knowing who an author was, the kind of views they held obviously informs their works, and that is important even if I decide to separate art from the artist.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    “because wherever I sat—on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok—I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar 4.5 to 5 stars This was a very powerful and only partially fictional tale from Sylvia Plath. Perhaps the genre should be called autobiographical fiction (is that already a thing?). Because of this, I was very glad that the book included a short biography of Plath at the end to compare her life experiences an “because wherever I sat—on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok—I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar 4.5 to 5 stars This was a very powerful and only partially fictional tale from Sylvia Plath. Perhaps the genre should be called autobiographical fiction (is that already a thing?). Because of this, I was very glad that the book included a short biography of Plath at the end to compare her life experiences and her experiences with writing it to the final product. While now it might only seem somewhat shocking and controversial, at the time I am sure it was a book that people may have had to sneak so that others did not realize they were reading it. The first half focused a lot on the main character’s (Esther, and therefore Plath’s) experience with the questionable behavior of men in her life. I believe what she deals with is what would now be called “toxic masculinity”. The men she meets just treat her so very wrong and they don’t even realize it. It’s as if she is not even a person, just a personality-less flesh puppet to ply with drinks and “mansplain” things to. For those who watch the show Mad Men, I was reminded of the characters Peggy and Joan in the first few seasons who are trying to breakthrough to do the work the men do but are often talked down to as they are expected to be secretaries and housewives. I imagine if a traditional “manly man” in the 60s found his wife reading this he would have likely done something drastically inappropriate to her and thought nothing of it. The second half of the book deals with depression, mental decay, and suicide. I felt so bad for Esther. She had issues, she needed help, and the help she received was so wildly inappropriate, it was infuriating. I was reminded of stories and movies from and set in that time period (Rosemary Kennedy and Angelina Jolie’s character in the Movie Changeling to name a couple) where the answer to a woman experiencing mental struggles in the 50s and 60s might be to nonchalantly toss them into a sanatorium or have them lobotomized. Men who had the same issues were not treated the same, even some that were truly mentally disturbed, while a woman battling with what might have only been mild depression or manic behavior might find themselves locked away and receiving shock treatment. If this part of the book doesn’t get you riled up, I would be surprised! It should be very telling that Plath originally released this under a pseudonym because she was afraid of the response she would receive. If you have to hide reality behind a fake name and fictionalization, then I think that proves there is something very wrong with reality. The Bell Jar is a must read. Some of the content may be hard to swallow, but it is a very powerful statement that will help humanity learn from its mistakes and avoid repeating them.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    When I was in high school, I was absolutely convinced that The Bell Jar was meant to be my favorite book of all time. The aesthetic of the "sad girl" "female manipulator" book appealed to me even then, before TikTok made it a trend. I never ended up actually reading it at the time, thanks to my old aversion to the classics, which I'm grateful for. I know that teen me would've taken all the wrong things about this story to heart, romanticized the fuck out of it, and I probably turned out 1000% mo When I was in high school, I was absolutely convinced that The Bell Jar was meant to be my favorite book of all time. The aesthetic of the "sad girl" "female manipulator" book appealed to me even then, before TikTok made it a trend. I never ended up actually reading it at the time, thanks to my old aversion to the classics, which I'm grateful for. I know that teen me would've taken all the wrong things about this story to heart, romanticized the fuck out of it, and I probably turned out 1000% more insufferable than I am right now (which is still plenty insufferable, don't worry. I mean, shit, I'm writing this and listening to Norman Fucking Rockwell at the same time. I'm a nuisance, as I was always meant to be). Anyway. Fast forward, I'm graduating from college in two short weeks and I figured that if there ever was a time to read this finally, now would be it. The Bell Jar is supposedly one of THE books for every girlie in her twenties, and time may have passed but I still have a giant soft spot for reading about women vs the void. So here we are. I don't think anything I have to say here that's going to come across as particularly outlandish. There's not really much I have to say at all, hence the three star. The writing is gorgeous, as I assumed it would be. Plath was obviously skilled with imagery and capable of creating poetry out of anything. I also found it incredibly interesting to read the book that came before so many of the ones I love now, and see what might've been used as inspiration. Lastly, I am glad I got to find all the famous quotes/scenes I've heard over the years within their context. Having the chance to underline "I am I am I am" in my dinky little paperback was satisfying, not gonna lie. Similarly, I don't have any criticisms with any real backing. All I know is I started to rapidly lose interest in the second half and felt nothing but disillusionment by the end. Maybe that's the intended effect. Maybe if I were to analyze this like its homework I'd be able to come up with something other than 'I neither liked nor disliked it' as my final thought. But unfortunately, I read it for funsies, that was the first thing that shot through my head when I shut the book, and so far nothing else has followed. I can appreciate this novel as a piece of good writing and an important part of sad bitch history, but if not for the fact that it is an established piece of literature I really wouldn't be giving it a second thought--or a review, for that matter.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Florencia

    I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn't wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? ...we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. — Franz Kafka; January 27, 1904 I saw my life branching out before me like th I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn't wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? ...we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. — Franz Kafka; January 27, 1904 I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor… and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was... (Chapter 7) There is a lulling silence engulfing this entire book, and if it weren’t for the darkening clouds approaching, an infinite palette brimming with all the shades of creation, one may never guess that it is the calm before the storm. Amid the impending commotion, the ancient state of confusion hovering over this land, a tree has already started to sense the chaos. A fig tree is losing its branches, one by one, as the storm unleashes its fury and time passes us by. The house does no longer provides shelter; its white walls won’t stop the cold, we see the ceiling yet we’ll feel the rain. Crystals are besieging us. The captives in the world of glass feel it all. My first encounter with Sylvia Plath’s work was Ariel. It was a good read but it didn’t leave me memorable impressions. Later I understood how excruciatingly personal her poetry was, thus missing a plethora of subtle vocals, strong undertones, harrowing melodies. After reading about her life and watching a biopic, the connection was absolutely different regarding, for instance, the same two poems I had read months ago. There may be a lack of lyrical substance, of the mellifluous quality in language worthy of all praises, but to me, the beauty of her verse lies on her honest display of emotions through complex and raw imagery. I find that openness refreshing. How unsafe it is to be on the brink of vulnerability, with a bunch of emotions for one person or a whole world to see. And yet, how brave; giving free expression to such feelings, turning them into creative energy. How invigorating. Even when no one is listening to anyone. Not even the ones who complain about how deaf the world is. Under these circumstances, I decided to revisit her poetry someday. The thing that triggered this series of fortunate events was a review by a friend, which made me want to give Plath’s writing another try, because I had sensed many times that she was an author I would certainly love – inexplicable hunches. Therefore, I dived into her only novel, The Bell Jar, first published in 1963 under the pseudonym “Victoria Lucas” and under her name in 1967. It tells the story of Esther Greenwood, the young heiress of several of Plath’s life experiences. The trouble was, I had been inadequate all along, I simply hadn't thought about it. I dreaded this review; I knew that from this novel would emerge a personal journal barely touching upon the merits of the book. I postponed the process many times since I didn’t want to deal with it, the easiest path evoking an infantile self-preservation, considering the world as an enormous rug where one can hide every unpleasant feeling, all the mirrors whose reflections we don’t dare to acknowledge. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet. In this novel, I found indecision under the apposite metaphor of a fig tree; undying portions of time where absence is a unilateral reality, and the inability to fit the standards to which a woman is supposed to belong – a perpetual rift between professional development and motherhood. The disparities between the world of a man and the encapsulated universe of a woman in mid-20th-century America. Or any place, any time. I couldn’t stand the idea of a woman having to have a single pure life and a man being able to have a double life, one pure and one not. Such differences constitute a theme that is deeply explored in this book, and from all perspectives, such as work and sexuality. Whether she knew it or not, Philomena Guinea was buying my freedom. “What I hate is the thought of being under a man’s thumb,” I had told Doctor Nolan. “A man doesn’t have a worry in the world, while I’ve got a baby hanging over my head like a big stick, to keep me in line.” While fighting against her demons, we find in Esther a powerful and perceptive character, full of conviction and harboring a strong yearning for independence, a situation that naturally didn’t involve the oppressive presence of a man absorbing her individuality like an unwavering sponge. However, the way her mind worked was much more profound than a trendy dislike composed of empty words. It was a search for identity in a society ruled by men and in which she felt inadequate most of the time. Through the character’s reflections, we witness her longing for liberation from the ties of the expected. The trouble was, I hated the idea of serving men in any way. I wanted to dictate my own thrilling letters. It is certainly striking that this novel, which deals with complex themes under such a stifling atmosphere, could also make me smile. Esther has a unique sense of humor and some of her comments regarding a vast array of things were rather amusing. Under the night that never seemed to end, trying to illuminate the long corridors of her mind, accompanied by voices, electricity and despair, she made me her confident and brought me smiles to pass the time. The Bell Jar is an ambitious work, as I read before, but it’s not a perfect novel. There are some fissures that should prevent me from giving it a 5-star rating. Nevertheless, I changed my first rating from four to five stars; it is on my “favorites” shelf, another favorite axe, and it has rekindled my feelings for Plath. I am grateful for the story she shared. And for the fate she forged for her character. I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am. Despite the darkness in which this book is immersed, a sense of hope still lingers even after finishing this somber journey. Fig trees are on solid ground, awaiting for courage, a leap of faith, life-changing decisions – meaning, beauty, uniqueness. The silence, a limpid layer which allows to admire the now splendid azure sky, is no longer an ominous sign. As a small stone is thrown into a pond, causing violent ripples that soon vanish while the former serenity is restored, such silence is interrupted briefly by the sound of glass breaking. In the midst of too much consciousness, those small shivers are a vital part of the ritual for being born twice—patched, retreaded and approved for the road. Feb 02, 17 * Also on my blog. ** Photo credit: Bell jar / via Pinterest Fig Tree (ficus)- Masai Mara, Kenya / Elsen Karstad Broken window / via karasoft.info

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Elizabeth

    I only had to read it once. I never read it for or with pleasure. I prefer childbirth.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    “Doctor Gordon was unlocking the closet. He dragged out a table on wheels with a machine on it and rolled it behind the head of the bed. The nurse started swabbing my temples with a smelly grease. As she leaned over to reach the side of my head nearest the wall, her fat breast muffled my face like a cloud or a pillow. A vague, medicinal stench emanated from her flesh. ‘Don’t worry,’ the nurse grinned down at me. ‘Their first time everybody’s scared to death.’ I tried to smile but my skin had gone “Doctor Gordon was unlocking the closet. He dragged out a table on wheels with a machine on it and rolled it behind the head of the bed. The nurse started swabbing my temples with a smelly grease. As she leaned over to reach the side of my head nearest the wall, her fat breast muffled my face like a cloud or a pillow. A vague, medicinal stench emanated from her flesh. ‘Don’t worry,’ the nurse grinned down at me. ‘Their first time everybody’s scared to death.’ I tried to smile but my skin had gone stiff, like parchment…Dr. Gordon was fitting two metal plates on either side of my head. He buckled them into place with a strap that dented my forehead, and gave me a wire to bite. I shut my eyes. There was a brief silence, like an indrawn breath. Then something bent down and took hold of me and shook me like the end of the world. Whee-ee-ee-ee, it shrilled, through an air crackling with blue light, and with each flash a great jolt drubbed me till I thought my bones would break and the sap fly out of me like a split plant. I wondered what terrible thing it was that I had done…” - Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar In the early morning hours of February 11, 1963, Sylvia Plath sealed her children’s room with masking tape, turned on the gas, and stuck her head in an oven. She was thirty years old. This is a rather grim way to start a discussion of The Bell Jar, but utterly necessary, because Plath’s death haunts every page of this wonderfully-realized story of a woman descending into insanity. This is one of those instances where fiction and fact are so tightly interwoven that they cannot really be separated. That is, part of the power of The Bell Jar comes from the palpable presence of Plath’s ghost. Reality casts a funereal pall over the proceedings, yet The Bell Jar opens jauntily enough. “It was a queer, sultry summer,” first-person narrator Esther Greenwood announces in the novel’s arresting first line, “the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs.” Esther, we soon learn, is in New York City, with a prestigious internship at a fashion magazine. There is a certain breeziness in the early going, so that it is not hard to conjure up an image from, say, The Devil Wears Prada: a tale of a young woman on the make, in the city that never sleeps. As we move forward, however, Esther – who proves an endearing, self-deprecating narrator – struggles with the glitz and glam that others so eagerly seek. Her time in New York is not seamless, and several incidents, ranging from the amusing (there are some surprisingly funny moments) to the terrifying, starts to degrade Esther’s mental condition. It does not give too much away to say that The Bell Jar is about Esther’s declining mental health. The strength of The Bell Jar, though, is partially derived from the fact that Esther, narrating in the first-person, never comes out and says, “then I went crazy.” Instead, Plath – through Esther – provides a precise, detailed, chilling presentation of Esther’s loss of sanity by describing everything with matter-of-factness. Her psychotic “breaks” are not identified as such. Rather, Esther depicts both the real and the unreal in the exact same manner, so that there is a blurring between the two. Years ago, as a young defense attorney, I worked the mental health beat, representing indigent clients contesting their civil commitments. Quite unexpectedly, I found it one of the more fascinating and rewarding things I’ve ever done. It was a job you could never plan for, and which could be funny, heartbreaking, and terrifying, all in the space of a few rapidly oscillating minutes in a confined space. That period gave me a profound awe for the human brain. You are always told how remarkable is the mind, but sometimes you need to see something in relief to see it at all. Thus, in observing the functioning of “non-normal” brain chemistry, I saw the power firsthand. I met with people whose view of the universe was completely at odds with the reality I perceived, and yet they could hold onto this alternate-reality for years, spinning these amazing webs from which they could not break (and of which I sometimes became a part). For these people, it was impossible to detach delusion from non-delusion. The former became as strong as the latter, until the two became the identical sides of the same coin. That’s what makes the mid-section of The Bell Jar so compelling. It contains Esther's scrupulously-detailed breakdown: a succession of doctors; a mother who doesn't understand and wants her to snap out of it; life in an asylum; electro-shock therapy; insulin therapy; and a black nurse’s aide who feeds her two types of beans, which is the kind of detail that had me nodding my head in recognition. (So much of great fiction is in small, perfect details). Beyond that, Plath’s Esther is blisteringly honest, and not just about matters of mental health. For instance, there is a scene where Esther loses her virginity that is told with a candor that is surprising today, not to mention the date when it was first published. As to publication, The Bell Jar became available in Britain – under a pseudonym – in 1963. Just a few months later, Plath took her own life, simultaneously cutting short a promising career, while launching a certain mythos. The novel did not arrive in America for several more years. When it did, it became an instant bestseller, and eventually, a classic. However, like John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, it is a strange classic, inextricably bound up in the death of its creator. Regardless of its baggage, The Bell Jar could stand on its own. It is poignant, honest, unflinching. The prose is beautiful, touched with poetry. The ending is unforgettable. But it would be wrong to separate The Bell Jar from its baggage, because the novel and its context inform each other. There is a certain level of sadness here that simply cannot be escaped. Yet Plath imbues The Bell Jar with glints and glimmers of hope. There is a brief reference to Esther’s future, a future free of hospitals and distortions and demons. It is clear that Esther – and by extension Plath – had some optimism for what lay ahead. We know, of course, that Plath never reached that better day, but we can wish, even believe, that somehow Esther did.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    (Book 433 from 1001 books) - Victoria Lucas = The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar is the only novel written by the American writer and poet Sylvia Plath. Originally published under the pseudonym "Victoria Lucas" in 1963, the novel is semi-autobiographical, with the names of places and people changed. The book is often regarded as a roman a clef since the protagonist's descent into mental illness parallels Plath's own experiences with what may have been clinical depression or bipolar II disord (Book 433 from 1001 books) - Victoria Lucas = The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar is the only novel written by the American writer and poet Sylvia Plath. Originally published under the pseudonym "Victoria Lucas" in 1963, the novel is semi-autobiographical, with the names of places and people changed. The book is often regarded as a roman a clef since the protagonist's descent into mental illness parallels Plath's own experiences with what may have been clinical depression or bipolar II disorder. Plath died by suicide a month after its first UK publication. The novel was published under Plath's name for the first time in 1967 and was not published in the United States until 1971, in accordance with the wishes of both Plath's husband, Ted Hughes, and her mother. The novel has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. The novel, though dark, is often read in high school English classes. عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «حباب شیشه»؛ «شیشه»؛ نویسنده: سیلویا پلات (نشر باغ)؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سوم ماه سپتامبر سال 2006میلادی عنوان: شیشه؛ عنوان دیگر حباب شیشه؛ نویسنده: سیلویا پلات (پلت)؛ مترجم: گلی امامی؛ تهران، نیل، 1352؛ در 229ص؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، نقش و نگار، سال 1381؛ در 230ص؛ شابک 9646235581؛ با عنوان: حباب شیشه؛ تهران، باغ نو، 1384؛ در 225ص؛ شابک 9647425295؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده امریکا - سده 20م داستان دختری به نام «استر گرینوود» شیفته‌ ی پسری به نام «بادی» می‌شود؛ با گذشت زمان «استر» درمی‌یابد که او هیچ شباهتی به همسر ایده‌ آل او ندارد و ناگزیر از او جدا می‌شود؛ در این هنگام، «استر» به بیماری روانی دچار و دست به خودکشی می‌زند، حال آن که مادرش او را از مرگ نجات می‌دهد و «استر» در آسایشگاه روانی بستری می‌گردد و.....؛ «حباب شیشه» رمان شبه‌ زندگی‌نامه‌ ای اثر «سیلویا پلات» شاعر «آمریکایی» است، که در سال 1963میلادی منتشر شد، و تنها رمان ایشان به شمار می‌رود؛ «سیلویا پلات» این اثر را با نام مستعار «ویکتوریا لوکاس» منتشر، و یک ماه پس از آن خودکشی کردند؛ «حباب شیشه» شباهت بسیاری با زندگی واقعی «سیلویا پلات» دارد، و چنین به نظر می‌رسد که تنها اسامی شخصیت‌ها و مکان‌ها تغییر کرده‌ اند؛ «سیلویا پلات» در این شاهکار تحسین شده و جاودان، با چنان ظرافتی خوانشگر را به دنیای ذهنی در حال نابودی «استر» میبرد، که جنون و دیوانگی این شخصیت، کاملا ملموس و حتی منطقی و عقلانی جلوه میکند؛ رمان «حباب شیشه»، کاوشی ژرف، در تاریکترین و مخوفترین گوشه و کنارهای ذهن بشر است، و پیروزی شگرف و اثر کلاسیکی جاودان به شمار میآید، اثر به زبان‌های بسیاری ترجمه شده و با وجود درونمایه ی تیره‌ اش در دبیرستان‌های کشورهای انگلیسی‌ زبان به عنوان متن درسی استفاده می‌شود...؛ از سیلویا پلات پنج دفتر شعر برجای مانده است: «بچه غول (1960میلادی)»؛ «کلوسوس و اشعار دیگر (1962میلادی)»؛ «آریل (1965میلادی)»؛ «گذر از آب (1971میلادی)»؛ «درختان زمستانی (1972میلادی)»؛ «مجموعه اشعار (1981میلادی)»؛ تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 07/08/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 16/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Appu Sasidharan

    The Bell Jar tells us the story of Esther Greenwood, a woman from Boston who comes to live in New York City. Sylvia Plath wrote this novel under the pseudonym Victor Lucas. The author passed away one month after this book was published. The public was eager to find the similarities between Esther Greenwood and Ms. Plath at that time. Esther's depression and mental breakdown, electroconvulsive therapy, and suicide attempt are all shrewdly depicted by the author. There are multiple instances w The Bell Jar tells us the story of Esther Greenwood, a woman from Boston who comes to live in New York City. Sylvia Plath wrote this novel under the pseudonym Victor Lucas. The author passed away one month after this book was published. The public was eager to find the similarities between Esther Greenwood and Ms. Plath at that time. Esther's depression and mental breakdown, electroconvulsive therapy, and suicide attempt are all shrewdly depicted by the author. There are multiple instances where the author sharply criticizes the patriarchal society in America at that time. The search for feminine independence is portrayed brilliantly with the help of the extraordinary narrative style. This is one of the best semi-autobiographical novels that I have read. “The silence depressed me. It wasn't the silence of silence. It was my own silence."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Garima

    Everything she said was like a secret voice speaking straight out of my own bones. A light at the end of a tunnel? May be! A flicker of hope? Perhaps. A cloud with a silver lining? Possibly. Eventually it’s the doubt that remains a constant companion while one is busy gathering shreds of a life which apparently turns into something unexpected, something frail, something blurred, something sour, something like sitting under a Bell Jar. There are no promises to keep and no expectations to be fulfi Everything she said was like a secret voice speaking straight out of my own bones. A light at the end of a tunnel? May be! A flicker of hope? Perhaps. A cloud with a silver lining? Possibly. Eventually it’s the doubt that remains a constant companion while one is busy gathering shreds of a life which apparently turns into something unexpected, something frail, something blurred, something sour, something like sitting under a Bell Jar. There are no promises to keep and no expectations to be fulfilled except a small desire survives somewhere, a desire wishing for wings of freedom to gather their strength again to soar high in the sky and letting the old brag of heart to leap out and declare in a booming voice – I am, I am, I am. Another book, another writer and another winner. I simply loved The Bell Jar. I approached it weighing under the burden of my hollow prejudices and expected a story that won’t surprise me in any remarkable way but Sylvia Plath! She gave me a valuable gift in the form of this book. I’ll probably come across as heavily drenched in my emotions here but it’s not every day one finds something which perfectly vocalizes the suppressed whispers of one’s past and an immediate present. Another case of deep connection? Not exactly. Just the right amount of shared feelings and a long awaited consolation that I’m not the only one. I felt dreadfully inadequate. The trouble was, I had been inadequate all along, I simply hadn't thought about it... I felt like a racehorse in a world without racetracks or a champion college footballer suddenly confronted by Wall Street and a business suit, his days of glory shrunk to a little gold cup on his mantel with a date engraved on it like the date on a tombstone. No self-pity or depressing delusions, just plain simple confession which born out of the realization after an official entry into the real world. The Bell Jar is about Esther Greenwood but I would like to view that name as some sort of anagram which encompasses everyone of us within it, maybe not in its entirety but in bits and parts. In all likelihood, nothing is there in a name and surely I can’t speak for everyone else but I know that there’s something in the writing style of Sylvia which holds the power of drawing readers in her tale and no matter how much one tries to break free from her words (because they hurt!) it’s almost impossible to do so. Esther made me laugh with her honest descriptions of the world and the people around her. She made me her accomplice in her jokes and in her secrets and she made me empathized with her and her plights but at the same time, I was grateful that she was able to share her pain without appearing miserable or demanding any form of solace. She is. She is. She is. That’s how I cheered for her. I uttered 'nothing new’ many times while reading it but considering it as a book written 50 years ago which still resonated at such an inexplicable level with me is fascinating to think of. Should I mourn at the repeated instances of histories which repeat themselves or cheer about the knowledge that there lived a girl who had a talent of telling something on behalf of most of us? I’m still contemplating about those questions but I guess they’ll lose their significance in time to come and only magical essence of Sylvia’s words shall remain with me. Piece by piece, I fed my wardrobe to the night wind, and flutteringly, like a loved one's ashes, the gray scraps were ferried off, to settle here, there, exactly where I would never know, in the dark heart of New York.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Based on Plath's own experience of breakdown in college, The Bell Jar charts the deterioration of protagonist Esther Greenwood's mental stability while interning for a fast-paced fashion magazine one summer in New York City. The first-person retrospective narration juxtaposes ironic detachment and impassioned lyricism: Esther swings from cooly assessing the insurmountable adversity she faces as a woman living in a sexist society to recounting the fits of existential despair she suffered the year Based on Plath's own experience of breakdown in college, The Bell Jar charts the deterioration of protagonist Esther Greenwood's mental stability while interning for a fast-paced fashion magazine one summer in New York City. The first-person retrospective narration juxtaposes ironic detachment and impassioned lyricism: Esther swings from cooly assessing the insurmountable adversity she faces as a woman living in a sexist society to recounting the fits of existential despair she suffered the year she lost control over her life. The narrative is tightly structured, the descriptions moving, the characterization nuanced. Considering that the novel is a first-rate work of art with an ambiguous ending, it seems important to approach The Bell Jar on its own terms with detailed attention to its history and form, not its author's act of suicide. Autobiographical as the story is, the book's much more than an unself-aware reflection of Plath's life or an ominous foreshadowing of her death. To overlook the work's artifice or its fictionality not only does a disservice to Plath as an artist but also perpetuates the reductive views about the work of women (writers) that in part prompted Plath to write the novel in the first place.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jaidee

    3.5 "descriptive rather than insightful" stars !!! I told my GR friend Ann that I meant to read this since age 16. All the girls I had crushes on at the time were reading this book with their pencil skirts and Smiths Tshirts. I read some Plath poetry that I enjoyed but never got to this novel. I spent a good deal of time reflecting on Esther...the heroine in this modern classic. She is a fascinating study in female narcissism that mistakes herself for being misunderstood, special and superior to 3.5 "descriptive rather than insightful" stars !!! I told my GR friend Ann that I meant to read this since age 16. All the girls I had crushes on at the time were reading this book with their pencil skirts and Smiths Tshirts. I read some Plath poetry that I enjoyed but never got to this novel. I spent a good deal of time reflecting on Esther...the heroine in this modern classic. She is a fascinating study in female narcissism that mistakes herself for being misunderstood, special and superior to men, lesbians and those of other social classes and ethnicities. She is raised by a working class widowed mother whom Esther feels a great deal of disdain and hostility towards. Esther, however, continually struggles for her independence, dealing with her suppressed libido and I suspect significant lesbian tendencies of her own. None of this is unusual in late adolescent females who consider themselves both world weary and special. Unfortunately Esther suffers also from unprocessed grief, school disappointments and a traumatic event that bring out her biological vulnerability,in her case, either very severe depressive psychosis or more likely a schizoaffective disorder that render her non-functional, at times delusional and severely suicidal. This book is her journey from confused spoiled brat to a young woman with a horrendous mental illness and her journey back to the living world. The book is very adept at describing the moral and the social roles of white middle class Northeastern men and women as well as the hypocrisies of that time period. At times the book is hilariously funny despite being about a young woman's immense psychic suffering. This book did not reach four star status however. I found much of it fragmented, unfinished and the prose (unlike her poetry) rather pedestrian more than inspired. I also found that although I found the character most fascinating I was not able to empathize or understand to the degree that I had hoped for.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    ”It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.” When Esther Greenwood wins an internship at a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther's life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiralling into depression and eventually a suicide attempt, as she grapples with di ”It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.” When Esther Greenwood wins an internship at a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther's life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiralling into depression and eventually a suicide attempt, as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take women's aspirations seriously. Where do I even begin to review this magnificent book. I feel it has come to me at a point in my life that I needed it most. We follow the life of young Esther who at a certain point in the narrative ends up going into a deep depression and is admitted to a psychiatric clinic. Plath herself had attempted suicide in 1952. It is because of this combination of autobiographical references, the topic of depression and the author's ability and sensitivity to express what she was going through that make this one of the most beautiful, complex, sensitive, deep, dense books, sad and hard to read. Esther Greenwood, our fictional protagonist, is unfortunately only a veiled cover for Plath’s real world disease which reached its nadir in 1963 when she took her own life at the young age of thirty. Plath’s prose is incredibly beautiful. If you did not already know, you can tell with ease that this writing is very personal. As much as it was meant to be shared, it also seems like a form of release. Plath deals with the anxieties of adulthood, the female psyche, and the grotesque reality of psychiatric treatments against a 50s backdrop. Themes like this are heavy. They linger. This is what makes The Bell Jar such a success. This is how the book manages to find a place between our hands, hearts, and heads. What it has to say about what women expect of themselves, and what society expects of women, is as sharply relevant today as it has always been. It's not a book for everyone, it's not for anytime, but at the same time it's a book for everyone and for life. ”To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream.”

  22. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Okay, I know this is a classic, well-written, etc. My rating is not based on the writing, but solely on how much I enjoyed reading the book…and I didn’t enjoy it at all. From the very beginning, even before her breakdown, I found very little to care for or associate with about Esther. She seemed cynical, disdainful, self-important, and manipulative. I just flat out didn’t like her. So when she really began to have some trouble mentally (actually, even before that) I, as a reader, wanted to close Okay, I know this is a classic, well-written, etc. My rating is not based on the writing, but solely on how much I enjoyed reading the book…and I didn’t enjoy it at all. From the very beginning, even before her breakdown, I found very little to care for or associate with about Esther. She seemed cynical, disdainful, self-important, and manipulative. I just flat out didn’t like her. So when she really began to have some trouble mentally (actually, even before that) I, as a reader, wanted to close the book and get away from her rather than keep reading and see her through it. When I did finish the book, it felt more like a relief than an accomplishment. This is not a story I ever want to revisit. There is much talk of suicide in The Bell Jar and it vividly describes what it can be like to experience a descent into depression. I admire it for what it is but it's just not my cup of tea. It left me feeling gloomy and unsettled. In the same vein, I would recommend Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen. I felt more involved with that one and felt like I learned a good bit about the subject matter.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sophia Judice

    i kept putting off this book, because i’m not really into classics, and i thought it would be super banal, but i was pleasantly surprised at how invested i became in esther’s story. i believe the bell jar’s cultural stronghold is well deserved, as it was truly ahead of its time. it contains excellent themes of gender roles, existentialism, and psychiatric treatment (particularly the barbaric and apathetic practices of the 1950s). it’s interesting to read early “feminist” works, since we’ve come i kept putting off this book, because i’m not really into classics, and i thought it would be super banal, but i was pleasantly surprised at how invested i became in esther’s story. i believe the bell jar’s cultural stronghold is well deserved, as it was truly ahead of its time. it contains excellent themes of gender roles, existentialism, and psychiatric treatment (particularly the barbaric and apathetic practices of the 1950s). it’s interesting to read early “feminist” works, since we’ve come such a long way that a book like this would seem rudimentary in the grand scheme of feminist lore. i found myself relating to this book quite a lot, and it made me extremely contemplative. the beginning is pretty boring, as well as the end, but the really deep stuff lies in the middle. like most classics, this book has a handful of racist moments, and i’m glad that we live in a world that now denounces ignorance in literature. the bell jar felt almost eerie to read because of the context in relation to the life and death of sylvia plath—the book is mostly autobiographical, and she killed herself just one month after its publication. this novel helped catalyze the larger conversation surrounding mental health and feminism, which in my opinion, makes it worthy of a read and of its praise.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Eya ☾

    This is, by far, the most disappointed I’ve ever been when it came to a book. Not just with the book itself, but with how many people decided to ignore the racism taking place in it. I’ve had this novel praised to me so many times that I idolized it for years before I even bought it. I was so scared that I wouldn’t like it that I kept waiting to be in “the right mind-set” before I decided to finally pick it up. About a quarter into the book I had already encountered not one, but 3 racist comments m This is, by far, the most disappointed I’ve ever been when it came to a book. Not just with the book itself, but with how many people decided to ignore the racism taking place in it. I’ve had this novel praised to me so many times that I idolized it for years before I even bought it. I was so scared that I wouldn’t like it that I kept waiting to be in “the right mind-set” before I decided to finally pick it up. About a quarter into the book I had already encountered not one, but 3 racist comments made by Esther (the main character). And I was so surprised that no one ever mentioned this to me that I had to stop reading, go on goodreads and look at the reviews to see if anyone was addressing it, and nothing. So I told myself I was reading too much into it and kept on reading, and by the 4th comment I was starting to lose it. So I went online and looked it up, and the only thing that turned up was a personal blog and a goodreads thread that mostly blamed the racism on “the time the novel was written in”, to which I would just like to say, and pardon my french, that’s complete and utter bullshit. This book was written in the 60s! The NINETEEN-60s!! in. the. middle. of. the. civil. rights. movement. And I’m not saying racism didn’t exist back then, hell, that’s what the whole movement was about. And I get that people weren’t “woke”, and that using certain slang was normal back then, BUT I could name at least a dozen writers who didn’t feel the need to be racist while writing from (what we all know is) their personal pov. Hell, I could name novels published in the 19th fucking century that advocated against racism. Sylvia could’ve at least picked up ONE of those during her lifetime, jfc. I’m not just speaking about the 5+ times she used the n word, it’s not my place to say whether that was wrong or not. I’m talking about the explicit racist comments (against more races than one, if I may add) that made me want to drench this book in gasoline, light it on fire then flush it down the fucking toilet: • In one part, Esther Greenwood describes her reflection as "a big, smudgy-eyed Chinese woman staring idiotically into my face," • In another she says: “the face in the mirror looks like a sick Indian" • At one point she calls indigenous Mexicans ugly and says things like "dusky as a bleached-blonde negress" • In a scene where Esther is being served dinner while in the mental health institute. The man serving her is described as a stupid, laughing, indolent Black man with huge, rolling eyes, a racist trope made popular with books like "The Story of Little Black Sambo," which was published in 1898. During this scene, the man commits the “offense” of serving two types of beans for dinner, and Esther punishes him for it by kicking him. • When Esther’s friend is telling her about a guy she’s interested in, who happens to be from Peru, Esther replies with: “they're squat…they're ugly as Aztecs." All of that being said, I think I should mention that: a/ the writing was actually pretty decent b/ I am not going to ignore the awareness it brought around mental health for so many years. But, if that’s the only reason you’re reading this, then I suggest you check out Girl, Interrupted instead, it’s equally as representative (if not more/better) of mental health, based on Susanna Kaysen’s real life (it’s more of a memoir-ish type), it includes plenty of documents and notes from her time in a mental health institute, and, most importantly, it isn’t problematic.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    This is a disturbingly frightening journey through the mind of a young girl suffering from depression in the 1950's. How far we have come in the last few decades in recognizing depression as a mental illness and treating it with much less radical techniques than electric shock. Ester Greenwood is 19 and her future is just starting to unfold. Yet, day by day, she is questioning herself: her capabilities, her confidence, who she is, and what does it mean. Her thoughts turn dark and helplessness en This is a disturbingly frightening journey through the mind of a young girl suffering from depression in the 1950's. How far we have come in the last few decades in recognizing depression as a mental illness and treating it with much less radical techniques than electric shock. Ester Greenwood is 19 and her future is just starting to unfold. Yet, day by day, she is questioning herself: her capabilities, her confidence, who she is, and what does it mean. Her thoughts turn dark and helplessness envelopes her in a tight, downward spiral. Plath captures the emotional characterization of depression and the utter helplessness that accompanies it. I truly felt like I was living this horror with her. 4+ ★

  26. 5 out of 5

    Matthias

    I'm really struggling with writing a review for this one, given the unique nature of the book and the sad reality that surrounds it. Every book is a testament of its author in one way or another, but with this semi-fictional autobiography it's difficult not to equate the book with its tragic author, making the reviewing of it an exercise in the kind of delicacy I'm not very well versed in. A delicacy that, frankly, I don't really enjoy employing. So what is one to do when he didn't really like " I'm really struggling with writing a review for this one, given the unique nature of the book and the sad reality that surrounds it. Every book is a testament of its author in one way or another, but with this semi-fictional autobiography it's difficult not to equate the book with its tragic author, making the reviewing of it an exercise in the kind of delicacy I'm not very well versed in. A delicacy that, frankly, I don't really enjoy employing. So what is one to do when he didn't really like "The Bell Jar"? Tread very carefully through the thorny bushes, knowing many in the Goodreads populace have a special place in their heart for this sensitive book. I decided on a respectful three-star rating even though my less delicate self would probably give it only two. It gets three because of its importance, because of its needing to be heard, but my heart of hearts doesn't care all that much about importance. It cares about being lifted up while this story mainly seemed to try and drag it down. I called this book an "autobiography", but with the important difference that autobiographies put the emphasis on a life fully lived, while in this book life seems pretty empty and the story was mostly about reasons for and ways of ending it. This book reads very much like a cry for help, and cries for help don't generally make for pleasant reading. The fact I felt useless as I heard that cry, the dread that comes with seeing a person consumed by fires I can't put out and other such merry sentiments make it hard for me to say I enjoyed this book. Everybody who reads this classic also knows about the tragic fate of the author, making the cry for help all the more chilling and making it akin to the reading of an elaborate suicide note. In short: I'd be surprised if this makes it on any "best beach reads" lists. I realise that even if this isn't a pleasant read that doesn't mean that it's not a good read, or a meaningful one, so let me elaborate on my mediocre rating for a book so highly praised by many others. I normally don't go for books dealing with depression, telling of a darkness with which I'm unfamiliar and quite uncomfortable, but reading is also about getting outside of your comfort zone. Also, I've got a severe gender inequality problem going on in my 2016 reading list and this book, hailed as an important womanly novel, caught my attention through promises of profundity and humor. The profound is there, in the intentions of the author to tell this deeply personal story, but I found most of the observations made in the book surprisingly superficial. The humor, while there in the earlier parts, felt like vinegar to a thirsty mouth. A perfectly enjoyable riff on the tipping system in New York in one of the earlier chapters gets a bitter taste by the end of the book, becoming a denouncement of one of the many things that are wrong with this world. Despite the lack of living up to what was promised, not all was bad with this book. Plath had the gift of prose, with elegant metaphors and the creation of immersive settings, evoking indelible images like of Esther sitting in the breezeway trying to write a book or a pair of boots pointing to the ocean. She's got a poetic stroke that mixes very well with her cynical side, resulting in a reading experience that was artistically and aesthetically pleasing. It's sad that this first novel is also her last, because the markings of true talents, with a lot of potential to be further developed, were clearly visible. I'm sad for Sylvia Plath and for everyone who shared and shares her plight. I have a great yet tender respect for her, writing this book, which must have cost her a tremendous effort given all the dark clouds in her heavy mind, trapped under a bell jar. But it was not for nothing, because as she was heaving up the bell jar with every word she wrote, trudging along with it in order to be heard, she created something that would make her message heard, then, now and far into the future. Go on, Sylvia Plath, and rest in peace. Your bell will keep resounding, maybe not on sunlit beaches, but definitely in your readers' hearts.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    "It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York. I'm stupid about executions. The idea of being electrocuted makes me sick, and that's all there was to read about in the papers - goggle-eyed headlines staring up at me on every street corner and at the fusty, peanut-smelling mouth of every subway. It had nothing to do with me, but I couldn't help wondering what it would be like, being burned alive all along your nerves. I "It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York. I'm stupid about executions. The idea of being electrocuted makes me sick, and that's all there was to read about in the papers - goggle-eyed headlines staring up at me on every street corner and at the fusty, peanut-smelling mouth of every subway. It had nothing to do with me, but I couldn't help wondering what it would be like, being burned alive all along your nerves. I thought it must be the worst thing in the world." I started reading this book at about 3 in the afternoon one day, and by midnight, I had finished it. I have never read something so utterly compelling and literally could not put it down. It was quite terrifying how often I read something the narrator thought or felt and found myself thinking, "I know exactly what you mean." Also, to all the people who call this a female version of Catcher in the Rye: shut up. You have no idea what you're talking about. Holden Caulfield was a whiny bitch with nothing real to complain about. Esther Greenwood was brilliant, witty, doomed, and had GENUINE reasons to feel like crap about everything. She makes Holden look like a snot-nosed preschooler throwing a tantrum because someone took his crayons.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lizzy

    “The silence depressed me. It wasn't the silence of silence. It was my own silence.” The Bell Jar is honest, disturbing, powerful, and poignant. It opens with "the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs," as if it were an omen of what is to come. Conspicuous and beautiful, it tells a story of despair as a young woman falls to the pitfalls of depression. “The trouble was, I had been inadequate all along, I simply hadn't thought about it.” Sylvia Plath's death haunts every page as depair v “The silence depressed me. It wasn't the silence of silence. It was my own silence.” The Bell Jar is honest, disturbing, powerful, and poignant. It opens with "the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs," as if it were an omen of what is to come. Conspicuous and beautiful, it tells a story of despair as a young woman falls to the pitfalls of depression. “The trouble was, I had been inadequate all along, I simply hadn't thought about it.” Sylvia Plath's death haunts every page as depair vanquishes life. Was there ever hope for Esther/Sylvia? Perhaps... However, helplessness and doubts drifts all over as a constant companion while she tries to hold to shreds of her life. “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.” So, there remains a small desire to survive, a desire for freedom to gather strength again to sail with the wind and fly away. And, fragments of realization that we are not alone in our despair. Sylvia Plath with her superb, alluring and somber writing, holds the reader spellbound and has the power of drawing us into her tale. Her words may hurt, it’s almost impossible not to do so. But Esther/Sylvia also made me laugh with her honest descriptions of the world and the people around her. She made me her accomplice in her hilaraty, in her secrets and in her honesty. Thus, the reader empathizes and is grateful to share with her her pain without appearing miserable or demanding any form of solace. “I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” The beauty of The Bell Jar, packed with bleak truths, difficult topics and wryly dark humor surprises and teaches us that our sorrows are simply us being human. This uncovering, if nothing else, should make us grateful. ___

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”I tried to smile, but my skin had gone stiff, like parchment. Then something bent down and took hold of me and shook me like the end of the world. Whee-ee-ee-ee-ee, it shrilled, through an air crackling with blue light, and with each flash a great jolt drubbed me till I thought my bones would break and the sap fly out of me like a split plant. I wondered what terrible thing it was that I had done.” This reminds me of this guy that used to go around the country talking about that moment in time wh ”I tried to smile, but my skin had gone stiff, like parchment. Then something bent down and took hold of me and shook me like the end of the world. Whee-ee-ee-ee-ee, it shrilled, through an air crackling with blue light, and with each flash a great jolt drubbed me till I thought my bones would break and the sap fly out of me like a split plant. I wondered what terrible thing it was that I had done.” This reminds me of this guy that used to go around the country talking about that moment in time when he hung in the air after jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. He knew instantly that he’d made a terrible mistake and at that moment desperately wanted to live. When I worked in San Francisco and lived in Richmond, I would sometimes take the Golden Gate Bridge to work and the Bay Bridge on the way back home, to mix things up, or vice versa. Sometimes the traffic report would push me one way or another. After being trapped for three hours waiting for a jumper on Golden Gate to decide if he was really going to do it or finally climb back down, I became paranoid as to whether there would be a jumper every time I climbed into my Jeep to head home. I can remember people standing in groups, cupping their hands around their mouths, yelling for the man to jump. It was the indecision that was so inconvenient. I have to admit, even though it made my stomach sour, that I too wanted a resolution to this interruption in my life. I wanted to be home with my family, a good book, and a glass of wine. We are all capable of such selfish thoughts. I felt the same way at moments in this book. I thought to myself,...Just please get it over with. I can’t take this anymore. How could I possibly think that the loss of a few hours of my life was worth all the rest of someone else’s life? Of course, I don’t believe that when it is put in those stark of terms, but the wait for something to happen was/is nauseating as well. So Esther Greenwood has earned a scholarship to college. She is certainly smart and has come up with a snappy subject for her dissertation, if only she could get around to actually reading Finnegan’s Wake. She has a roommate, Doreen, whom she admires immensely. She seems so self-possessed and free from the burdens of expectations. ”Everything she said was like a secret voice speaking straight out of my own bones.”Esther is pretty enough, not the prettiest of girls, but pretty enough to attract the attention of boys, but of course, men prefer Doreen. There is that aura around Doreen that makes men want to break through that cool exterior to the tiger they can sense lurks beneath. There are hundreds of girls who would be jealous of Esther’s opportunities, but Esther will gladly trade her life for almost any life. The problem is, there is no escape from herself. There is a voice that is slowly turning all the rest of the natives in her head against her. ”If Mrs. Guinea had given me a ticket to Europe, or a round-the-world cruise, it wouldn’t have made one scrap of difference to me, because wherever I sat--on the deck of a ship or at a street cafe in Paris or Bangkok--I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.” If only Esther can jump from a bridge and fall far enough, before hitting a safety net, to discover that suicide is not what she wants. What have I done? Of course, the poignancy of reading The Bell Jar is the fact that Sylvia Plath does attempt to kill herself in 1953 in a similar way as Esther does in the book. This may be a novel, but the autobiographical elements of the book make it as real as reading a memoir or Plath’s diary. The tragedy is, of course, that Sylvia, ten years later, does successfully end her own life, so I guess we know the ending of Esther’s life as well. "Blissfully succumbed to the whirling blackness that I honestly believed was eternal oblivion."--Sylvia Plath I kept wishing that Esther/Sylvia would work as diligently at finding a reason to live as she did scheming for a way to kill herself. I kept thinking about Anthony Bourdain, Virginia Woolf, and in particular David Foster Wallace; all had many people who admired them and loved them. We think one of the worst things on this planet is to be unloved and how being in that terrifying position would be a reason to be suicidal, but these chemical imbalances that people suffer from tilt the scales of their lives in the wrong direction. It doesn’t matter how much they are loved. I want to unroll the list of things Bourdian has loved and read them to him one by one to convince him that he has much to live for. I want to catch Woolf at the river, pull the rocks from her dress pockets and fling them into the water to sink without her. I want to cut the rope that is dangling from the rafters of Wallace’s house and watch him inhale that first precious gasp of air. I want to walk into Plath’s house in 1963 and turn off the gas and carry her out into the sunlight. Is that what they wanted? A miraculous intervention? Did they want the universe to insist that they live? This book is considered by many to be a masterpiece. The book is certainly unsettling, especially when the reader knows he is basically reading a 234 page suicide note. Wallace, I believe, wrote two pages. Woolf wrote a simple page, but a beautiful one. It is unclear whether Bourdain wrote a suicide note, but given his penchant for prose, I find it hard to believe that he didn’t. I can see how people who are struggling, especially those who are struggling silently, with their mental health would seek this book out. It does seem to help once people know they are not alone or even discover that their problems are not unusual. Does this book help or hinder someone’s own recovery? I don’t know the answer to that. I do think those people who have someone in their life who is grappling with mental health issues would possibly gain some insight into their loved one’s battle with their own mind by reading this book. For those who see the very best in life, it is sometimes difficult to understand why someone would want to kill themselves. When I feel a bit blue, there is always a book to pull from a shelf to take me somewhere else long enough to let the stormy weather in my mind subside. I feel very fortunate that I have discovered such an outlet for my happiness. The victim is not the only victim; suicides leave a lake of tears and recriminations in their wake. If you are suffering and are contemplating suicide, please do continue to search for a reason to live. There is something out there for you. Don’t be dangling in the air before you realize that you really do want to live. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten and an Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/jeffreykeeten/

  30. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey

    Man has no foothold that is not also a bargain. So be it! -Djuna Barnes, Nightwood I’ve been side-eyeing this book for a very long time, much as I warily circle any piece of work whose chosen topics happen to lie close to deeply personal experiences of mine. It’s difficult to tell what I fear more from these bundles of paper and ink. The chance of severe disappointment? The possibility of debilitating resonance? Either one would weigh much too heavily on my sensibilities and result in time lo Man has no foothold that is not also a bargain. So be it! -Djuna Barnes, Nightwood I’ve been side-eyeing this book for a very long time, much as I warily circle any piece of work whose chosen topics happen to lie close to deeply personal experiences of mine. It’s difficult to tell what I fear more from these bundles of paper and ink. The chance of severe disappointment? The possibility of debilitating resonance? Either one would weigh much too heavily on my sensibilities and result in time lost to regaining equilibrium. Not that I grate against having to go through such measures to regain normal functioning in society, mind you. The fact that I have found such measures is a matter that I treasure greatly. It’s just that I would prefer to be careful with the reading material from the start, a methodology which helps me funnel the eventual after-effects into something rewarding with a quick recovery time. This review, for example. What I found in this book was not what I had been expecting. I didn’t even like it at first, the flat and formless prose bleating mundanities and rarely breaking out into the creative bents of lurid glory that I had assumed would compose the entirety. My opinion changed as I went on, as it often does, and I have come to see this straightforward dropping of facts and opinions as a boon, a mark of brilliance almost when it comes to presenting content such as this. For mental illness continues to have a horrid stigma in this society of ours, and it was a mere few years ago that one of my friends was forcefully taken away from a dorm room by a cop to a ‘psychiatric boot camp’, which lasted for a week and ended with her furious and shaken and landed with a bill for $8,000. All for having mentioned to her university granted and 'confidential' therapist that she had considered killing herself. As she discussed the events leading up to it, I saw the similarities between her thoughts and mine, and thought about how easily I could have found myself in the same horrible situation. I didn’t realize it then, but this event would play a major role in my eventual dropping out of college, as well as propel me on my way to find my own method of coping with life. For I am defiantly stubborn when it comes to justifying my existence, and refuse to let anyone or anything force me on a path of ‘fixing’ me. In choosing that, I have been much more fortunate than Esther Greenwood, as I have had the time and the space to come to conclusions about my own particular brand of troubles as a female bred for academic success, and how to best deal with them. How life is full of countless little dissatisfactions, and how the mind is so wonderful at subconsciously accumulating each and every one, and how splintered it can become when it is led to believe that happiness is found one way, and then another, as it is betrayed again, and again, and again. How practical one can be in the face of all this, right alongside the absurd choices that rail against every measure of ‘practicality’ defined by everyone and everything around you that simply aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet. It is all too easy to think oneself into a box of ‘if I just did this everything would be alright’ and ‘why can’t I do all this like everyone else is’ and ‘oh I can’t do that because it costs money/wastes time/breaks off the path that is supposed to work for all’. It is all too easy to subconsciously realize how all these ‘proper’ pathways have failed and have led to the simple urge to end it all, when one can see all too clearly how any effort to prolong anything 'proper' is destined for failure. The hard part is figuring out exactly what you want and need. The frontier of the unknown is whether you will be given the means to achieve it. I promised myself a long time ago that when it came to choosing whether to go back to the path that was guaranteed to end in me jumping off a bridge, or to live, I would choose the latter. Every single time. It’s required breaking off a lot of social connections, it’s required sitting down on random sidewalk curbs filled with busy pedestrians until I’ve finished my latest piece of writing, it’s required bursting into tears while reading To the Lighthouse in the middle of a university library because I could see so clearly that the only chance for happiness I had was nowhere on the path that I had been and was expected to lead my whole life on. It’s required a lot of banal events of the same flavor as the ones described in this book, and it’s ultimately required a lot of nonsensical shit that would have landed me in that ‘psychiatric boot camp’ many times over, much of which I can recognize within these pages. And while the events described in this book happened long ago, the attitude towards mental illness today is still one of distrustful hysterics, and I'll be damned if I put my faith in the impositions of the public before I've exhausted every possibility within my own voluntary grasp. You know what? I will never be ‘fixed’, so long as I choose to live. Each day has a chance of containing small wonders, small horrors, small acts of weirdness that keep me going and really don’t oppress anyone or anything else, so long as no one thinks themselves capable of interfering ‘for my own good’ without my completely informed permission. There will be no final day where I find myself capable of living like ‘normal’ people. But so long as I can see a future that compels me on, a future that adheres much more to my own sense of worth than what society and its denizens would like me to believe, I can keep going. To me, that’s all that really matters. And I am grateful to this book for giving me the chance to express it.

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