In a sentence excised from her 1963 novel The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath’s heroine, Esther Greenwood, confesses to the unreliability of representation, even when it appears to arise from first-hand testimony: ‘I never told anybody my life story, though, or if I did, I made up a whopper.’ Esther warns against any easy acceptance of truthfulness. It is a caution that readers of all kinds of supposed representations of Plath would do well to heed.
Representing Sylvia Plath re-evaluates Plath’s body of work, adding to a growing movement in Plath studies that is suspicious of an older but still lingering school of Plath criticism that sees her as a ‘confessional’ writer. The topics and contributors to this volume have been selected to reflect a range of new developments in Plath Studies. All explore Plath’s own paradoxical notions of self-presentation. The essays share an interest in what Plath’s many poetic speakers hide, veil, and leave out, as well as what they say directly.