Janet Malcolm





Janet Malcolm

Author profile


born
Prague (formerly in Czechoslovakia), Czech Republic
gender
female


About this author

Born 1934


Average rating: 3.87 · 3,751 ratings · 459 reviews · 12 distinct works · Similar authors
The Silent Woman: Sylvia Pl...
4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 923 ratings — published 1993 — 19 editions
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The Journalist and the Murd...
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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 1,076 ratings — published 1990 — 16 editions
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In the Freud Archives
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 355 ratings — published 1983 — 13 editions
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Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice
3.61 of 5 stars 3.61 avg rating — 429 ratings — published 2007 — 9 editions
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Psychoanalysis: The Impossi...
4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 269 ratings — published 1977 — 16 editions
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Iphigenia in Forest Hills: ...
3.55 of 5 stars 3.55 avg rating — 275 ratings — published 2011 — 6 editions
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Forty-one False Starts: Ess...
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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 171 ratings — published 2013 — 9 editions
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Reading Chekhov: A Critical...
3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 103 ratings — published 2001 — 13 editions
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The Crime of Sheila McGough
3.45 of 5 stars 3.45 avg rating — 64 ratings — published 1999 — 8 editions
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The Purloined Clinic: Selec...
4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 42 ratings — published 1992 — 7 editions
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“Life, of course, never gets anyone's entire attention. Death always remains interesting, pulls us, draws us. As sleep is necessary to our physiology, so depression seems necessary to our psychic economy. In some secret way, Thanatos nourishes Eros as well as opposes it. The two principles work in covert concert; though in most of us Eros dominates, in none of us is Thanatos completely subdued. However-and this is the paradox of suicide-to take one's life is to behave in a more active, assertive, "erotic" way than to helplessly watch as one's life is taken away from one by inevitable mortality. Suicide thus engages with both the death-hating and the death-loving parts of us: on some level, perhaps, we may envy the suicide even as we pity him. It has frequently been asked whether the poetry of Plath would have so aroused the attention of the world if Plath had not killed herself. I would agree with those who say no. The death-ridden poems move us and electrify us because of our knowledge of what happened. Alvarez has observed that the late poems read as if they were written posthumously, but they do so only because a death actually took place. "When I am talking about the weather / I know what I am talking about," Kurt Schwitters writes in a Dada poem (which I have quoted in its entirety). When Plath is talking about the death wish, she knows what she is talking about. In 1966, Anne Sexton, who committed suicide eleven years after Plath, wrote a poem entitled "Wanting to Die," in which these startlingly informative lines appear: But suicides have a special language.
Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
They never ask why build.
When, in the opening of "Lady Lazarus," Plath triumphantly exclaims, "I have done it again," and, later in the poem, writes, Dying Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call, we can only share her elation. We know we are in the presence of a master builder.”
Janet Malcolm, The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes

“This is what it is the business of the artist to do. Art is theft, art is armed robbery, art is not pleasing your mother.”
Janet Malcolm, The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes

“Every journalist who is not too stupid or full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people's vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.”
Janet Malcolm

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