'Provides a compelling argument for Plath's revision of the painful parts of her lifethe failed marriage, her anxiety for success, and her ambivalence towards her mother. . . . The reader will feel the tension in the poetry and the life.'Choice '[Examines] Plath's twin goals of becoming a famous poet and a perfect mother. . . . This book's main points are clearly and forcefully argued: that both poems and babies require 'struggle, pain, endless labor, and . . . fears of monstrous offspring' and that, in the end, Plath ran out of the resources necessary to produce both. Often maligned as a self-indulgent confessional poet, Plath is here retrieved as a passionate theorist.'Library Journal Susan Van Dyne's reading of twenty-five of Sylvia Plath's Ariel poems considers three contexts: Plath's journal entries from 1957 to 1959 (especially as they reveal her conflicts over what it meant to be a middle-class wife and mother and an aspiring writer in 1950s America); the interpretive strategies of feminist theory; and Plath's multiple revisions of the poems.
About the Author
Susan R. Van Dyne, professor of English and women's studies at Smith College, is coeditor of Women's Place in the Academy: Transforming the Liberal Arts Curriculum.
What People are Saying About This
A fine example of a new phase of Plath criticism made possible only recently when the poet's papers became available to scholars in 1981. . . . Revising Life is a major contribution to Plath scholarship.New England Quarterly
Plath scholars will welcome intriguing accounts of the poet's composition and revising processes, including the fact that she often composed on the reverse sides of her own and Ted Hughes's manuscripts.American Literature [THIS QUOTE CARRIES MORE WEIGHT THAN THE ONE FROM WAGNER-MARTIN, PER KT]
Susan Van Dyne's Revising Life brings the reader into [Plath's] work with a new and complex intensity. This is criticism at its best, melding a quantity of factual information with Van Dyne's superb readings. Her conclusions are sometimes surprising, but always helpful.Linda Wagner-Martin, author of Sylvia Plath: A Biography
[An] important, provocative, and often brilliant book. . . . Plath emerges as a creator of a powerful new counter-discourse in literature and culture. Revising Life provides the most detailed study yet made of Plath's poetry manuscripts. It yields fresh insights into the poet's cultural situation and creative process, exposing some precise ways her poems interweave biography and textuality. Plath is revealed as being both specifically feminist and outrageously gifted.Steven Gould Axelrod, author of Sylvia Plath: The Wound and the Cure of Words
[A] book that is meticulously researched, clearly and gracefully written, carefully argued, and beautifully presented. . . . Revising Life is a major contribution to Plath scholarship.New England Quarterly