Very closely toeing the line between fiction and memoir, Jong's novel focuses on twenty-something poet, Isadora Wing, and the bizarre love triangle inVery closely toeing the line between fiction and memoir, Jong's novel focuses on twenty-something poet, Isadora Wing, and the bizarre love triangle in which she finds herself while in Vienna for a psychoanalytic convention. What transpires is a deep exploration of her identity, separate from and in the context of the men in her life, her sexuality, and her ability to navigate her own life. There were parts of this book that I could have written based on my own experiences and if nothing else, it was a with a sigh of relieved recognition that I read Jong's reflections. It was peaceful to know that I am not the only one grappling with these ideas and confusions.
The stark autobiography-ness of this book is EXACTLY why I haven't written a so-called novel. ...more
I was absolutely captivated by Plath's writing style in this book. So many passages stopped me in my tracks and demanded to be read again, and again.I was absolutely captivated by Plath's writing style in this book. So many passages stopped me in my tracks and demanded to be read again, and again. Her use of words clearly indicated that this novel was written by a poet. I read a library copy of the book and found myself marking passages with Post-It flags, just to go back and read them again. And again.
The plot follows college student Esther Greenwood into an emotional breakdown and her subsequent treatment. It is a fictionalized autobiography of Sylvia Plath's own breakdown during the same time period of her life. The plot was certainly engaging and observing Esther's descent and recovery was particularly interesting to me as I have professional experience working as a psychotherapist. Shock treatments and Freudian psychoanalysis are not methodologies to which I subscribe, and so a "first hand" account was an interesting read.
Personally, there were some aspects of Esther's/Plath's personality to which I definitely related. One of Esther's difficulties was choosing a path. As her boss at the magazine says "She wants to be everything". I get that. One of my favorite passages was the following:
"I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet."
Read this once in high school and again during graduate school. Really fascinating portrayal of a young woman's descent into schizophrenia. I can't giRead this once in high school and again during graduate school. Really fascinating portrayal of a young woman's descent into schizophrenia. I can't give a better review because it has been at least 20 and 5 years between respective readings, but I was recently reminded of it when a book blogger reviewed it. ...more