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A mulher calada: Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes e os limites da biografia

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  1,026 ratings  ·  73 reviews
Uma das poetas mais originais do século XX, Sylvia Plath se suicidou no inverno de 1963, poucos meses depois de se separar do marido, o também poeta Ted Hughes. Esse gesto último selou, em torno de sua vida e sua obra, um campo de forças tão poderoso que ainda hoje continua a opor não só os vivos aos mortos, como todos os que sobreviveram à tragédia.
Neste livro, Janet Mal
Paperback, Edição de Bolso, 235 pages
Published 2012 by Companhia das Letras (first published 1993)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paul Bryant
It's true, every time I think about this book I tremble in awe and reverence. It's like major parts of the whole thing about how human beings are human are here in its little pages. All that who are you really and anyway who is the I asking this question and what do these marks signify on these pages which apparently relate to people who used to be here but now aren't and why that should matter anyway, don't we have other more pressing concerns like, er, people who are actually alive?

But I gues
Honestly, I could give two shits about Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes. I've never read The Bell Jar, although I've heard it's quite good. My interest is in Janet Malcolm, the way she has insinuated herself into one of the great battles of modern literature, taking as her subject not so much Plath or Hughes or Plath & Hughes, but their memories, the way they are written about and argued about.

Poets, like politicians it seems, have partisans. And while such folks allow themselves to have a pers
Aug 25, 2010 Jamie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: basically everyone
I found Janet Malcolm's non-biography/biography on the Plath/Hughes estate battles so gripping that I finished it in two sittings. Admittedly, this was not the book I was expecting (thought what I was expecting I'm not entirely sure of), but it read very intimately, very quickly, and very bitingly. Though Malcolm admits on several occasions that she leans on the Hughes "side" of the drama--and she would, seeing as she's cleverly evading the trappings of conventional biographical strictures with ...more
Caitlin Constantine
It's a shame that the first time I'd ever heard of Janet Malcolm was for the libel case she was involved in back in the 1980s. The lawsuit is a staple of media law curricula around the country, and as a result, almost every journalism student has heard of Malcolm, but for all the wrong reasons. (I'm not trying to defend her against accusations of libel, because I don't know enough about the case and what really happened to say one way or the other.) She is a writer of great clarity and style whi ...more
"The questions raised by the passage only underscore the epistemological uncertainty by which the reader of biography and autobiography (and history and journalism) is always and everywhere dogged. In a work of nonfiction we almost never know the truth of what happened. The ideal of unmediated reporting is regularly achieved only in fiction, where the writer faithfully reports on what is going on in his imagination. When James reports in The Golden Bowl that the Prince and Charlotte are sleeping ...more
Not a biography but an essay on biography using the famous platform of Hughes/Plath. Way to market something most people wouldn't have read if it was called "Vagaries of the Biography."
Plath and Hughes were picked over again, nothing new here, the other 5 well known bio's have done it before.
It did interest me that Malcolm sided with the Hughes.
Olwyn may have been protective of Ted but she was also a bully and easily as difficult and unpleasant as Sylvia is accused of being.
And Ted, yes, he's ha
Sarah Funke
Smartest book on biography I've ever read. Purports to be about Plath and Hughes but it really about the history of Plath/Hughes biography, and about the project of writing a life more generally. Fascinating, insightful, and some lovely writing. Some representative good bits: "The freedom to be cruel is one of journalism's uncontested privileges, and the rendering of subjects as if they were characters in bad novels is one of its widely accepted conventions." Quoting A. Alvarez on Ted Hughes: "T ...more
Erick Neves
I believe that like me, most people looking for that book will behind a biography, which is not exactly the case. "The Silent Woman" is, first of all, a journalistic study on the limits of biography, how flawed this genre can be, especially when the biography is already dead and the family is not always tends to collaborate - which is what happens to Sylvia Plath.

Janet Malcolm in the course of her book attempts to demystify this eternal struggle between readers of Sylvia and Ted Hughes. Try to m
Kelly Ferguson
The New York Times had an article yesterday where Kathleen Hanna (founder of the the Riot Grrrl music movement)is archiving her materials at New York University. She's my age, 44. Like many writers, I've had these silly ideas that my letters, journals, process, etc., might matter, and I've come to the realization that what's really going to happen is that some relative or hired cleaner will toss a ton of paper into the recycling bin until my life gets to about the mid-90s. The paper trail halts. ...more
Aniko Carmean
THE SILENT WOMAN is author Janet Malcolm's journey to understand "the problems of biographical writing." Sylvia Plath, her biographers, and Plath's (then) living relatives are the exemplar Malcolm dissects. THE SILENT WOMAN reads like a journal, and Malcolm sets the scene for countless interviews with no less precision and detail than any fine mystery novelist setting the scene for her detective's great unveiling. The book is thought-provoking and, although details about Plath abound, THE SILENT ...more
Sep 15, 2014 El marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by this article from The Rumpus because why not.
Back when I was writing my grad thesis on Lewis Carroll, I decided to read some of the bios on Sylvia Plath - 1, because to me she's another interesting figure with a lot of weirdness in her background, and 2, there's definitely some different biographies out there of the lady, with definite slants. Malcolm's was perhaps the most interesting that I read and really demonstrated to me what a biography can be, comparing and contrasting the viewpoints of the characters in Plath's life who are trying ...more
This book was a bit of an interesting paradox. It does a great job of drawing the reader into what seems a general consensus (backed up by compelling evidence in the form of letters and interviews) that Plath's husband Hughes and her unpleasant sister-in-law, Olwyn are, well, unpleasant people who have done everything in their power to censure the poet's biographers. However, at the end of the book, the author declares that she is firmly on the side of Ted and Olywn, with no further explanation. ...more
David Schaafsma
This is a kind of meditation on biography, on the impossibility of the enterprise in any serious sense. I mean, we crave them, we study celebrity, but even with the journals, the drawings, the poems, the essays, and novel, we see different people, contradictory, and the plain of public and critical opinion is so heated that we realize with her help that we have no idea who she was, and no idea what her marriage was to Hughes. This doesn't stop us from obsessing about it, me included, we seem to ...more
This is a great compilation concerning the various "myth"s of Sylvia Plath, but not a biography that begins "Sylvia Plath was born..." and fleshes out her life. If you're interested in SP's afterlife and various biographies and criticism of her work and the Hughes family, then go for it. I wouldn't recommend this book if you want to learn about Sylvia.
The most even-handed of the bios on Plath and Hughes. Malcolm really tries to get the full story without taking sides. It's nice to see, since most Plath bios depict her as a simpering victim to Hughes' cruelty, which was most assuredly not the case.
This is another book that I associate with a particular moment in my life. I read it all in one night, I think, in my dorm room.

The prevailing theory in my class about this one is that Ms. Malcolm was er... interested in Mr. Hughes.
Interesting. Not brilliant. No great insights into the biographical form, despite what was promised. Maybe I expect too much.
Gi Marques
Janet Malcolm é uma jornalista excelente. Em 230 páginas - versão pocket! -, ela consegue demonstrar o lado humano da vida conturbada de Sylvia Plath e extrair, de seus principais biógrafos, a dificuldade de contar a historia de alguém cuja vida foi tão assistida. Eu explico: no livro, Janet não se restringe aos fatos da vida da autora, mas também nos leva para conhecer a pressão sofrida por Annes e Jaquelines que tiveram seus textos cortados pelos Hughes (não só Ted, mas também Owlyn) antes da ...more
This book is not a biography on Sylvia Plath and her husband but rather an exploration of the vexing issues that surround the biographies written about Plath and Hughes, specifically how difficult it is to write a biography when the relatives and friends of the subject are still alive and try to prevent the biographer from disclosing certain information. It's a very interesting treatment of biography as a flawed art form -- one can never be sure if primary and secondary sources are entirely trut ...more
When I started reading this book, I found that it made me irrationally angry. I assumed it was because my life was a little stressful, which was skewing my reaction to the book. So, upon coming back to it two weeks later, in a better frame of mind, I was surprised to find… it still made me irrationally angry.

I think Janet Malcolm is trying to write a critique of the biography genre, using much-martyred/much-maligned Sylvia Plath as an example. But The Silent Woman is not a well-argued essay. It’

Janet Malcolm is intense,honest(sometimes brutally), highly intelligent, deep-thinking and ultimately very interesting writer.

I have read a variety of material Sylvia Plath with mild interest and knew the supposed back story-- SP was put-upon and abused by Ted Hughes the horrible villain, and when coupled with her mental illness she broke-- and stuffed her head into an oven-- the end.

As I started this book on a whim I was instantly hooked. What is this book? A history of the biographies written
Before reading this, I liked clinging to my "pro-Plath," "anti-Hugheses" stance, but this biography of a biography turned me neutral. Also, maybe because Malcolm herself explores the fallacies of biography, I found myself trusting her more than anyone she was referencing; perhaps because I'm gullible, I thought of her as pure and unbiased, which she herself would admit that she is not.
Oct 21, 2007 e.a. rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Plathfiends
Partly biography, partly an essay on the nature of biography, partly a look into the ferocity of the remaining Hughes family. I was interested in the theme of celebrity and privacy, and the the tyranny of the undergraduate classroom.

This wasn't particularly illuminating in regards to Plath's life or poetry, but it was very revealing in regards to how the Plath myth was tended and attacked after her death. A good parade of the cast of characters who knew her either closely (Ted Hughes, his siste

I really wondered about why the ending seemed to dissolve into intentionally-dissatisfying nothing, but I believe it to be in service to the greater point of the book -- not to expose anything new about an exhausted cultural narrative, but to expose the interpreters of this narrative: neighbors, other artists, cultural critics, family members, journalists -- and to draw attention to the vast empty silences which necessarily create un-truth in any narrative.

Even though Malcolm decla
Delicious "biography as mystery" of Sylvia Plath. As Mslcolm negotiates the rights and feelings of both the living and the dead, one appreciates the unique challenges of biography, and has more acute sensitivity to the inherent flaws of the genre. The book also forces one to appreciate how voyeuristic it can be to read biography, and while the reader is not exactly shamed, one cannot help but become uncomfortable with confronting the human fascination with the morbid so directly. By the end I co ...more
Aburridísimo, lleno de observaciones personales que a nadie le importan.
Buena onda el intento posmo de la metabiografía pero no me convenció tanta reflexión simplona. Quizás puede servir para iniciarse en la discusión discurso-escritura.
This book was based on Sylvia Plath's tragic marriage with Ted Huges. A man whom she has described many times in her poetry was not satisfying. She described her husband as a dark figure at times and would compare him to her father. However, because this book was based on her marriage, it also described how she came to an unfortunate end when she finally fell into a deep depression that caused her to take her own life. And even with her interesting poems, I find it very sad to know that she had ...more
Lou Heinrich
Seriously, I know Janet Malcolm is like the queen of long form nonfiction, but I find her writing so DULL.
While she is excellent at making sweeping description of human nature and defining interactions between people, my attention span is too damn short for the endless trudging through what's ever been said about Plath! Ugh!
Shonell Bacon
I'm not a fan of works on Plath that take a Pro-Plath or Pro-Hughes slant as I'm always left feeling like much was left unsaid. I certainly wasn't a fan of this book either as it seems to disguise itself on a discussion of the art of writing biography (by using Plath and the biographical writings that have been writing about her), but it's so heavy in its Pro-Hughes slant that I had to hold back the bile as I read because I didn't want to just abandon the book.

Though I did learn a few interestin
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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.”
“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.” 10 likes
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