Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath)

Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar


Title: The Bell Jar
Author: Sylvia Plath
Genre: Fiction / Modern Classic   Pages: 234
First published: 1963
Edition: Paperback, published in 2005 by Faber & Faber

Working in New York one hot summer, Esther Greenwood is on the brink of her future. Yet she is also on the edge of a darkness that makes her world increasingly unreal.

This book is considered a modern classic and it must have made quite an impact when it was first released in the 1960s. Now, half a century later I think its impact has somewhat lessened. I have read a few books that have done a similar thing, namely talk about depression and suicide ideations in this way. Therefore it is hard to look at it in the way I would have done had it been the first book of this kind that I had read. I kind of regret that, because it takes away from the important tale it tells.

The writing has a beautiful quality to it, but remains distant and disconnected, just like the main character, Esther. I cannot say I like Esther,  but I think many of us will understand her detached emotional state and I think that is why this book can be such a revelation to people.

I cannot say I absolutely loved this novel, but I definitely appreciate it. It shows a glimpse not only into the depressed mind of the author, but also into the treatment of mental illness in the 1960s, which is quite literally shocking.

It saddens me to know that the author did not manage to lift that bell jar and succumbed to her own depression in the end. That definitely puts this novel into perspective.

5 out of 7 stars

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