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

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  1,409 Ratings  ·  108 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
Aug 25, 2010 Jamie rated it it was amazing  ·  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
May 30, 2016 Brendan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 20, 2014 AB rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Sarah Funke
May 03, 2009 Sarah Funke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I found this provocative, really smart, and fascinating. It's pretty much an anti-biography, questioning from the start the whole enterprise of writing--or reading--a biography, on ethical grounds, and also because of the interpretative leaps and elisions required to present what appears to be a coherent rendering of a life. Which Malcolm stubbornly refused to do--she includes her doubts, her sense of her own biases--even her errors, in the interesting endnote added after the original publicatio ...more
Janet Malcolm is my newest favorite provocative journalist. What Jessica Mitford did for the prison and funeral industries, Janet Malcolm is doing for biography and journalist. I started out with The Journalist and the Murderer and moved on from there.

The transgressive nature of biography is rarely acknowledged, but it is the only explanation for biography’s status as a popular genre. The reader’s amazing tolerance (which he would extend to no novel written half as badly as most biographies) ma
Apr 03, 2013 Belinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kimberly Ann
Dec 02, 2015 Kimberly Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! In exploring the process of biography & the Sylvia Plath legend, it teaches you a lot about her and Hughes but also about both the difficulties of trying to tell someone's life story--fact, fiction, truth, speculation, etc.--especially when that person is dead and people close to him/her are still alive. Great read!
Sep 05, 2014 Terri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 03, 2016 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caroline by: #WLClub
1. Malcolm's short contributor's bio: "Janet Malcolm has been writing for The New Yorker since 1963, when the magazine published her poem “Thoughts on Living in a Shaker House.”

2. The first line from The Journalist and the Murderer (1990): "Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible."

3. Oh, this adjusts every biography I'll read. Malcolm's presence, how she enters or recedes from a scene, is fascinating
Erick Neves
Jun 22, 2013 Erick Neves rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 09, 2013 Aniko Carmean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sharon Bautista
Feb 22, 2016 Sharon Bautista rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is extraordinary. Malcolm pulls back the curtain of biography, revealing the mechanics, the subsequent curtains hung by Plath's various "biographers." Hughes shares with Plath the subtitle of the book, but he in many ways loses his pride of place in Malcolm's narrative. This book is as much about why people write (the passage about unsent letters is one of my favorites), as why they don't, and sometimes don't let others write...and the records, actual and imaginary, of this all.
Sep 15, 2014 El marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by this article from The Rumpus because why not.
Sep 10, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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
Nov 02, 2015 Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A reread, and just typical, marvelous Malcolm. It's about Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, but also about the art of biography itself. No one writes about intellectual pursuits and the act (and art) of writing as thrillingly as Malcolm.
Roman Clodia
Jun 26, 2016 Roman Clodia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plath-hughes
A meta-biography of the Plath-Hughes mythology

This isn’t a biography of Sylvia Plath but an intelligent probing into the biographical industry that has sprung up around Plath, and the struggles for ownership of the various legends which surround the Plath-Hughes marriage.

From the publishing of Plath’s ‘Letters Home’ by her mother, to Hughes’ controversial editing and destruction of her last journals, and the various memoirs, essays and biographies that have been written from both sides of what h
Courtney E. Smith
Feb 24, 2016 Courtney E. Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Truly unlike any biography I've ever read.
Apr 07, 2014 Paris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
quotes I liked from this book-

"There was another woman. It is a situation that many young married couples find themselves in--one that perhaps more couples find themselves in than don't--but it is a situation that ordinarily doesn't last: the couple either reconnects or dissolves. Life goes on. The pain and bitterness and exciting awfulness of sexual jealousy and sexual guilt recede and disappear. People grow older. They forgive themselves and each other, and may even come to realize that what t
Noemi Proietti
More than a biography of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, The Silent Woman is an analysis and criticism of biographers of the two poets. If you don't know much about Sylvia Plath's life, I would suggest you read a complete biography before reading The Silent Woman because it can be a little confusing.
I liked the angle this book took quite a bit: it's about the act (or art) of biography writing using the many biographies of Sylvia Plath as an example. Malcolm provides insight on how biographies are written and their intrinsic faults. Any biography is naturally going to be skewed: by the author's and the readers' opinions, the living witnesses' memories and biases, and even the primary evidence of letters and diaries because there is still a possible misrepresentation of events. She explains h ...more
Candy Wood
If I hadn’t quite seen the appeal of creative nonfiction before, I do now. Janet Malcolm has done all the work of a biographer, consulting published and unpublished documents, interviewing survivors, and visiting locations, but instead of writing a biography, she explores the process. Malcolm identifies herself as a contemporary of both Sylvia Plath and Anne Stevenson, whose 1989 biography of Plath generated vicious reviews, and she questions the possibility or even desirability of an objective ...more
Apr 18, 2010 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 07, 2016 segosha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
is it okay to say a book is annoying? reading this was a frustrating experience. for one thing, its not about either sylvia plath or ted hughes, its about the the ways they have been perceived and written about by others. which is interesting, but not really what I was looking for.

it seemed to be compelling me to form an opinion on the issue that I had no inclination of deciding on. I like sylvia plath's poetry, and I like ted hughes poetry much much more. I find the dimensions of their relation
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  • Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath
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  • Sylvia Plath: A Biography
  • Mad Girl's Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted
  • Giving Up: The Last Days of Sylvia Plath
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Janet Malcolm is a journalist, biographer, collagist, and staff writer at The New Yorker. She is the author of In the Freud Archives and The Crime of Sheila McGough , as well as biographies of Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Plath, and Anton Chekhov.

The Modern Library chose her controversial book The Journalist and the Murderer — with its infamous first line — as one of the 100 best non-fiction
More about Janet Malcolm...

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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.” 16 likes
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