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The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  14,654 ratings  ·  579 reviews
First U.S. Publication

A major literary event--the complete, uncensored journals of Sylvia Plath, published in their entirety for the first time.

Sylvia Plath's journals were originally published in 1982 in a heavily abridged version authorized by Plath's husband, Ted Hughes. This new edition is an exact and complete transcription of the diaries Plath kept during the last tw
Paperback, 732 pages
Published October 17th 2000 by Anchor (first published 1982)
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Sarina it isn't especially explicit, but can be quite intense (and maybe disturbing) emotionally. that said, i think that young people can and should read…moreit isn't especially explicit, but can be quite intense (and maybe disturbing) emotionally. that said, i think that young people can and should read this. (less)

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4.31  · 
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 ·  14,654 ratings  ·  579 reviews

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Tammy Marie Jacintho
Sep 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The Problem of Sylvia Plath, Her Poetry, and the Necessity of Her Journals

Because of her suicide at the age of 30, many critics have labeled her either immature or hysterical--while other critics have taken it upon themselves to defend her integrity. Those who have championed her work find they do so at personal cost. Unfortunately, her personal life, and the circumstances surrounding her death have had an adverse effect on how she is read.

Quite instinctively, one knows the implications that may
pink pills and paper
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: excellent
I decided I was going to read this for two reasons: Sylvia Plath intrigued me; and I need to write better journal entries.

It is sometimes hard to wrap your head around the fact that she was so young when she wrote those journals, and constantly I had to keep reminding myself. She seemed extremely mature for her age. I found myself only reading 20, 30 pages at a time, because her words were so full of introspection, I had to continually go back and reread passages and reflect, soul-search about m
Feb 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
"So it all moves in a pageant towards the ending, it's own ending. Everywhere, imperceptibly or otherwise, things are passing, ending, going. And there will be other summers, other band concerts, but never this one, never again, never as now. Next year I will not be the self of this year now. And that is why I laugh at the transient, the ephemeral; laugh, while clutching, holding, tenderly, like a fool his toy, cracked glass, water through fingers. For all the writing, for all the invention of e ...more
Apryl Marie
Oct 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2008, 2007
There were moments reading this book that I had to put it down because the feelings are so vivid you feel like an intruder.

There are quotes from her journal that decribe in dark detail the feelings that I am sure many women feel as they are on their own for the first time, falling in love, broken hearted, scared of failure, married, alone...

Loved this book.
Catherine Roehl
Feb 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
It's astounding how much I relate to Sylvia in these journals. I think all feminine beings need to read this. Her entries are honest and raw: revealing her sensitivities, obsessions, routines, insecurities...

More intimate than any of her poetry books, Plath's journals offer greater insight into both her personal and literary struggles.

This book is of great value to me: and I'm sure I will continue referring to it for many years.
Jul 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the book that introduced me to Sylvia Plath. Her poetry and 'The Bell Jar' would follow. I came to appreciate her love for just writing. She can make the most mundane interesting. To truly have a complete picture of Sylvia Plath, 'The Journals' are integral. One of my great thrills was to visit Smith College, and meet Karen Kukil and actually pick up and read the actual journals. In the Mortimer rare book room, I was also able to see the drafts of her poems written on the pink Smith Coll ...more
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2k15
"I love people. Everybody. I love them, I think, as a stamp collector loves his collection. Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me. My love's not impersonal yet not wholly subjective either. I would like to be everyone, a cripple, a dying man, a whore, and then come back to write about my thoughts, my emotions, as that person. But I am not omniscient. I have to live my life, and it is the only one I'll ever have. And you cannot discard your own life with ob ...more
Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣
Dec 03, 2015 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣ by: Kat Stark
I will not rate this book.

It's too hard for me to finish reading. I feel like I'm intruding. I love memoirs, but this is not one. This is a collection of raw feelings/thoughts. Would Sylvia Plath have published her diaries, had she survived? Would she have changed them before publication?
Rebecca McNutt
Sylvia Plath has been an alluring figure in both history and pop culture for decades, both because of her dark, vivid writing and because of her mysterious suicide. These non-fiction journals are about as close to her mind as anyone will likely ever get.
Aug 10, 2007 rated it liked it
it is a chilling experience to read this. if you keep a journal of your own you probably understand how odd it is to imagine people around the world curling up with it/them. i am a self-admitted voyeur so i couldn't resist this glimpse into her mind.

as always, ted had a say in what we (and more importantly, her children) would know of her:

"I destroyed [the last of her journals] because I did not want her children to have read it (in those days I regarded forgetfulness as an essential part of su
Onaiza Khan
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sylvia captured her emotions and inner struggles beautifully and narrated everything with such impeccable honesty that it is hard not to like her. She seems to me a very evolved person and I do feel bad that she decided to leave the world so soon. This book has led me to introspect and look into myself for the emptiness and negativities that a person usually ignores. I believe it is very important to understand one's true self and this journal really helps one in doing so.
Ruby Granger
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: before
This should be at the top of everybody's reading list...
Dec 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
This just in: Sylvia Plath's journals? kind of a downer.

Also disorganized, vast, incredibly rich. I enjoyed the early college years the most, when she's all casually fantastic writing and cycling ecstasy and alienation. The later stuff is heavier with self-consciousness and deeply frustrating relationships with men. She's one of those people that I would be friends with and love dearly, but every year or so I would lose it and snap "oh just fucking deal with it," at her.

But man could she write.
Alok Mishra
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is more interesting than any of her publications - fiction or non-fiction. Those who want to know more about Plath must read these journals.
Apr 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
I feel like an intruder reading this.

Incredibly vast and intricate, even her ordinary accounts of days are almost as eloquent and forceful as her poetry.
Susan Katz
Jul 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
This is a book that would probably be best read the way it was written, a page or two at a time over a period of years. Roughly 700 pages at one gulp can be an overdose. Plath is a good writer and a perceptive and intelligent woman, but living inside her head for very long isn't comfortable even for an observer. Knowing the ending in advance, of course, gives the reader an edge on Plath and adds an unintended layer of irony to many entries and an involuntary little shiver to comments like "I des ...more
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Reading this... changed the way I think. I know and understand that Plath has been over-romanticized since her tragic death, but these journals are the undeniable evidence of her poetic genius. Plath found beauty in everything, and her descriptions of internal and external experiences are absolutely stunning.

I highly recommend this to anyone interested in Plath, poetry, mental illness, women writers, etc.
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it

0:02 Beginning theme, comforting, like her first diary entries, sounds to me like: it is, it is gonna be ok, it is, it is gonna be ok...
"...I love people. Everybody. Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me...I have to live my life, it's the only one I'll ever have."

00:22 and the theme repeats, but a little stronger this time, more emotional, deeper bass, deeper her love for life:
"...I want to live and feel all the s
Christina Bouwens
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A real pot-boiler! Certainly, this is a dense collection insofar as it is highly evocative of a time, a place, a woman in crisis -- her emotions, thoughts, conflicts roar off the page into a reader's heart. Anyone curious about Sylvia Plath as not only a poet, but a woman of the 50s, and perhaps as a feminist icon or a psychological study will be sorely mistaken not to delve into this collection. Plath was a phenomenal woman of the past mid-century, and such a loss to the literary world. Her jou ...more
Jul 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this new edition of Sylvia Plath's Journals, edited by Karen V. Kukil, the Associate Curator of Special Collections at Smith College, ‘an exact and complete transcription of the journals kept by Sylvia Plath during the last twelve years of her life’ has been included, and ‘there are no omissions, deletions or corrections of Plath’s words in this edition’. Her journals, says Kukil, ‘are characterized by the vigorous immediacy with which she records her inner thoughts and feelings and the intri ...more
Mar 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Sylvia Plath’s journals are an eye opening education. It’s a remarkable insight into a brilliant, unique mind. Her writing encourages me. Her doubts, her fears, the things that made her vulnerable and scared or soft and happy. She was intelligent and sophisticated and ahead of her years. Her mind was so complex and and yet had so much depth. I can say I’m haunted by the things she wrote and how relatable they are. It’s an absolute must read for anyone.
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ugh, my heart.
Feb 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: grrc-2013, reviewed
I can’t remember where I read it but I recall someone mentioning how worrying it was to relate so much to someone who’s life ended so tragically (or as they so bluntly put it 'someone who stuck her head in an oven'). That stuck with me as my interest in Plath and my knowledge of her and her work grows and especially now that I’ve read her diaries.

The amount of identifying I did with Plath in her diaries early on was of some distress to me. She took feelings, vaguely formed thoughts that had bee
Oct 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
I did it.

I started and, more importantly, finished The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. This is a feat that comes at the end of fifteen years of starts and stops. I bought the book in 2000 when I worked at Indigo (my employee discount receipt is still taped on the inside back cover). The book had just been published and I remember the flurry of excitement that surrounded this "literary event".
I am not exaggerating when I say that I've picked up this book with every intent of reading it abo
Feb 06, 2017 rated it liked it
My library fine on this long-overdue book is going to bankrupt me.

The first few hundred pages were pretty perceptive, until you remember you're in the midst of your last year of high school and have 15 papers to study for + numerous coursework deadlines that are looming ahead of you, and that (maybe) the prospect of delving into the mind of a woman who committed suicide by sticking her head into a gas oven, ISN'T exactly the best idea at this point in time, considering that there are still 500+
Look at this marvelous piece of art.

But it's not all as awesome as it looks.

1-30%: the amazing part. Here there is art, poetry, existentialism, truth, fear, helplessness, sadness, melancholy, anxiety, fulness, obsessions, philosophy, frustrations, desires, wonder, inner conflicts, loneliness, learning, life lessons... Everything.

It can be read as a striking novelty in the literaly world, it can be read as a psychiatric/psychologic study, It can be read as a compelling insight of a complex human
Jan 20, 2017 added it
Recommends it for: fans of Sylvia and her writing
No rating because, somehow, despite feeling the comfortable intimacy of reading this, I kind of regret poring over it in its entirety, it felt like I was an intruder to Sylvia's life invading her most private journals. Nevertheless, I did enjoy her writings which never falters on its utterly lush and poetic tone even in writing a record of her somewhat somber life. She lived a truly miserable one but by having lived thirty years, she left a remarkable amount of unforgettable poems.
"My health i
Mar 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
The depth of this woman never ceases to amaze me. I spent three months meticulously combing through her journal entries for a paper I was working on in graduate school. Though I've always been a huge fan of Plath (me and every other woman under thirty), I probably never would have picked up this book if it weren't for this paper. I'm very grateful that I did.
Donald Trump (Parody)
Aug 31, 2018 rated it did not like it
Christ almighty, that Ted Hughes really deserved better than this wench. What a blabbermouth. She cried about every little thing, like people would wanna read about her PMSing all over the place! Hughes did the right thing by looking elsewhere to get his needs taken care of, Sensitive Sylvie here obviously wasn't up to the task. I tell you I'm following about 1000 different Instagram girls, Fullmetal Ifrit and Amy Jackson and all the rest, and they are the REAL inspirations. Believe me, nobody l ...more
kippen (uponthepages)
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this immensely for reading something to basic as someone’s journals
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Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer.

Known primarily for her poetry, Plath also wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The book's protagonist, Esther Greenwood, is a bright, ambitious student at Smith College who begins to experience a mental breakdown while interning for a fashion magazine in New York. The plot paralle
“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.” 15210 likes
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” 6989 likes
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