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In recent years, literary critics have engaged in a variety of new approaches to Sylvia Plath’s work. Readers themselves are increasingly aware of the complex array of backgrounds and frameworks that shape Plath’s writing. Bringing together an exciting combination of established and emerging thinkers from a range of disciplines, Sylvia Plath in Context is an important new landmark in this ongoing project. Across thirty-four chapters, this volume reveals Plath’s complex responses to the writers she reads, her interventions in the literary techniques and forms she encounters, and the wide range of cultural, personal, artistic, political, historical and geographical influences that shaped her work.
In my own chapter, I discuss how Plath came into contact with the many common forms – literary and otherwise – in which we find the second person address. These include instructions such as user guides and recipes; questionnaires and interviews; advertising; letters; poems; and prose fiction. All of these second person functions are utilised by Plath at various points in her work. I provide key examples of these uses and establish the context for the kinds of sources she drew upon. Plath’s formulates a ‘you’ that is fluid and mobile, controlling the reader’s distance from and closeness to the narrators of her poems and fiction.
Sylvia Plath in Context brings together an exciting combination of established and emerging thinkers from a range of disciplines. The book reveals Plath's responses to the writers she reads, her interventions in the literary techniques and forms she encounters, and the wide range of cultural, personal, artistic, political, historical and geographical influences that shaped her work. Many of these essays confront the specific challenges for reading Sylvia Plath today. Others evaluate her legacy to the writers who followed her. Reaching well beyond any simple equation in which biographical cause results in literary effect, all of them argue for a body of work that emerges from Plath's deep involvement in the world she inhabits. Situating Plath's writing within a wide frame of references that reach beyond any single notion of self, this book will be a vital resource for students, scholars, instructors and researchers of Sylvia Plath.
Interest in Sylvia Plath continues to grow, as does the mythic status of her relationship with Ted Hughes, but Plath is a poet of enduring power in her own right. This book explores the many layers of her often unreliable and complex representations and the difficult relationship between the reader and her texts. The volume evaluates the historical, familial and cultural sources which Plath drew upon for material: from family photographs, letters and personal history to contemporary literary and cinematic holocaust texts. It examines Plath's creative processes: what she does with materials ranging from Romantic paintings to women's magazine fiction, how she transforms these in multiple drafts and the tools she uses to do this, including her use of colour. Finally the book investigates specific instances when Plath herself becomes the subject matter for other artists, writers, film makers and biographers.