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The Letters of Sylvia Plath Volume 1: 1940-1956

(Letters of Sylvia Plath #1)

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  217 ratings  ·  32 reviews

A major literary event: the first volume in the definitive, complete collection of the letters of Sylvia Plath—most never before seen.

One of the most beloved poets of the modern age, Sylvia Plath continues to inspire and fascinate the literary world. While her renown as one of the twentieth century’s most influential poets is beyond dispute, Plath was also one of its most

Kindle Edition, 1424 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Harper
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Manuel Antão
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Let Them Be: "Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 1: 1940-1956" by Sylvia Plath

“My biggest trouble is that people look at me and think that no serious trouble has ever troubled my little head. They seldom realize the chaos that seethes behind my exterior. As for the who Am I, what am I angle...that will preoccupy me till the day I die.”

In "Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 1: 1940-1956" by Sylvia Plath

Prior to the publication of the second v
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: coeur, lettres
(4.5 but hell, how is one supposed to 'rate' one of the best poetess' letters?)
What a journey. Sylvia, I'll miss you, and am much looking forward to the release of the second volume of your letters. You've helped me go through 2016 and 2017, as your work and the way you saw life and described it has had the power to change me & the way I look at things. You're an inspiration, and I can't even grasp half of the things reading you has brought me.
-- I can only recommend to anyone interested in Sylv
Roman Clodia
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Last night I read a long involved Jean Stafford story in the New Yorker, and had one of my apocalyptic visions: someday I will be a rather damn good woman writer. Suddenly, I feel this queer sense that, in time, I can surpass her; and even Eudora. If I live "in-myself" this way, all the quirks and queer musings in my head can bear fruit, without being blurred and blunted by constant prosaic contacts with exterior people; this year will set me deeper than ever in the dark secret well of my own
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the week:
Sylvia Plath's renown as one of the twentieth century's most influential poets is beyond dispute, but she was also one of its most captivating correspondents. This radio selection, is abridged by Caitlin Crawford from the remarkable, collected edition of Plath's letters published last week. Edited by Peter K Steinberg and Karen Kukil , it is a work of immense scholarship and care, presenting a comprehensive and historically accurate text of the known and extan
tortoise dreams
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Plath put as much effort into her correspondence as her other writing, she's witty, engaging, energetic -- a true writer, she wanted the recipients to enjoy her letters.

Book Review: The Letters of Sylvia Plath is a chunker, a monster, a brick, a beast, massive ... literally a "tome." Sylvia Plath, in those pre-Twitter and texting days, wrote a lot of letters (future generations will not have the pleasure of reading letters collections). More than 1,390 letters. You've already read some of this b
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It would be impossible for me to describe just what Sylvia Plath means to me. After reading this first volume of her letters, it's official: I have never connected with another writer like I have with her.

If you have ever wanted to get to know Sylvia beyond the stereotype of "depressed female writer who committed suicide," this collection is really the best place to start. I think her real self truly comes through in the letters to her mother, Aurelia Schober Plath. My favourite running theme f
Olivia L
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I am sitting in my room, looking out at a scene of snow pouring down with ice and sleet and thinking of how sometimes people are really wonderful after all.”

What a gift. I loved living in this book for the several months it took (on and off) to read it. A friend and professor of mine talks about how Sylvia worked “harder than anyone” to become a writer, and she’s right, and it’s evident in these pages. I felt a little envious, reading it, wishing I could transport readers to my world the way SP
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I shall be one of the few woman poets in the world who is fully a rejoicing woman, not a bitter or frustrated or warped man-imitator, which ruins most of them in the end. I am a woman, and glad of it, and my songs will be of fertility of the earth and the people in it through waste, sorrow, and death."

It was my goal to finish the first volume of Sylvia Plath's letters during Women's History Month. And I succeeded -- despite, taking me over five months. I felt sort of strange, almost like an int
J.S. Watts
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. For me it was a coming together of the original works of Plath I have read, along with the many biographies, critical essays, diary and letter extracts. These letters are a fascinating insight into the thought processes and life of Plath. The book's a must read for Plath scholars and those fascinated by her and her oeuvre. Given it's size, though, it's probably not a book for the faint-hearted or those with a passing curiosity.

My next task is to re-read Ted Hug
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've never had a reading experience like this before—reading years of letters all in succession. What a unique window into a person's mind, and such a fascinating mind Plath's was. Immersive. ...more
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will take multiple tries to read this massive books. Very personal letter to Plath's mother, husband, and friends. ...more
Jeffrey Haskey-Valerius
Phewwww! That took a while; this may be the longest books I've ever finished. Onto Vol. II!

I just cannot begin to describe the gravity, the magnanimous encompassing beauty in feeling the intimacy of these correspondences, intimate in different ways than her poetry; how she thinks of her mother as her very closest confidante (in this volume at least) is endearing and most convenient for the reader...and then once she marries Ted, the painful foreboding of her blinding love for him crushes me, cru
Anna Maria Ballester Bohn
There's no way I could review this. Just this: anyone who thinks Sylvia Plath is the poems in "Ariel", or her suicide, or her marriage to Hughes, or even her journals - this image will (again) be shattered by this book. Syliva Plath's letters are a study in how we lie to ourselves by lying to otheres and in doing so expose everything about us. Here Plath is more human and flawed than she ever wanted to be, and I love her for it. Such a waste, such a waste. Read this even if you're afraid of very ...more
I read this book when it first came out. There was a sense of "expectations to be met." If you are told often enough you are the golden girl, then such you will become. Even the photograph on the dust jacket reinforces that belief system. Some authors, upon achieving fame, start turning their correspondence into an artifice for posterity. With Plath, she was turning her correspondence into her posterity while in knee socks. You have to read too much between the lines to truly understand the pers ...more
Kirsten Zobel
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wer diese Briefe liest, der fühlt sich ihr sehr nahe, falls er ähnlich denkt und fühlt wie sie. Mir ging es damals so, was heute vielleicht anders wäre. Denn in den vielen Jahren, die vergangen sind, seit ich die Briefe las, hat sich mein Leben stark verändert somit auch meine Einstellung zum Leben. Doch was sich sicher nicht geändert hat, das ist die Meinung zur Person. Eine herausragende Dichterin, die leider zu wenig an sich glaubte und unnötig aus dem Leben ging.
Yanan Zhao
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved the drawings of SP!
Gripping. As soon as I finished this volume I bought volume 2
Gary Daly
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m still recovering from reading volume 2 which I’ll go into when I review that volume. The complete letters of Sylvia Plath volume 1 covers the years 1940-1956 (age 8-24 years). The letters begin with Sylvia as a young girl writing mainly to her mother and assorted friends. Her childhood letters paint a beautiful palpable picture of her days at summer camp, stamp collecting and gives the reader a wonderful insight (perspective) to the first half of the 20th century.

Plath’s powerful imaginatio
Pauline  Butcher Bird
I love Sylvia Plath's writing so it is not surprising that this first volume of her letters to her family and friends has given me such pleasure. They are wonderfully written and self-analytical. It's astonishing no one picked up her talent earlier. This volume covers her late teens to early twenties, but already we see Plath's early signs of bipolar disorder. She swings from dark lows and an early suicide attempt while at college, to exotic highs when she meets Sassoon, her first boyfriend, dow ...more
Considering the BBC production (5 segments of 15 minutes each) was abridged, I have to wonder did that mean abridging individual letters, or eliminating letters altogether? Probably some of both. Although curiously, some of what was included was fairly mundane. It didn't help that the reader had an annoying style, and her poor American accent gave the impression of affectation. Perhaps that was appropriate; it wouldn't surprise me if Plath had been. Anyway, letters can be interesting because the ...more
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Coming in at a whopping 1400 pages for volume one, this has to be the most exhaustive collection of her letters. But I didn't read this all. Much as I am a Plath fanatic, I didn't want to plough through hundreds of pages of letters written by a young teenage girl, no matter how precocious. I chose to start in autumn 1955 as she arrives in England to start her Fulbright scholarship at Cambridge University. From then until autumn 1956 is still some 400 pages of letters. Knowing she also kept thoro ...more
Deborah Sowery-Quinn
A large tome of 1300 pages, give or take, I felt immersed in Plath's world for the several weeks it took me to read it. It evokes the by-gone days of letter-writing, very conscious of how we won't have this record of people's lives anymore, with our electronic communication. We had read Plath's "The Bell Jar" recently for my book club, my favourite book; it had been a long time for me, but it did not disappoint, I still thoroughly enjoyed it, and pleasantly enough, most everyone at book club enj ...more
Nov 17, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
L. Russell
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just fantastic and mesmerizing. When it comes to a writer as good as Plath, nothing will beat the original source material for enriching information about her life. Don't get me wrong, I'll read pretty much anything about her (I also loved Pain, Parties, Work) but this is an incredibly valuable effort. ...more
Susanne (Pages of Crime)
I first started reading these letters back in February and then just dipped in and out as the mood took me. Then, I decided that I had to finish it before the end of the year and not carry it over to 2021 and so read 920 of the total 1340 pages just in December.
This is a truly immersive read that takes a great deal of concentration and which serves to demonstrate the many faces of the young Sylvia Plath. I look forward to continuing the journey with year!
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Letters of Sylvia Plath: Volume 1", is an overall neatly organized edition.
Being a fan of Sylvia Plath I found her letters to her mother to be especially enlightening toward her characteristic role as a student and aspiring writer.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
I can't get through this book. So. Many. Letters from camp! The childhood minutiae gets tedious quickly. ...more
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiographical
Having made my laborious way through this book, I found myself distinctly unimpressed with Plath's personality. She was one of the most singularly self-centered people I've ever encountered, though the genius of he writing is often apparent in these letters. ...more
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, memoir, non-fiction, 2018
I don’t run, but finishing this book must be what it’s like to cross a finish line at a marathon. I loved every minute of it and want more. I have enjoyed living in Sylvia’s head for the past three months and I miss her already. I eagerly await volume two being released this fall.
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even though Sylvia Plath was NOT named after the Shakespeare lyric ("Who is Silvia, what is she, that all our swains commend her...") (Two Gentlemen of Verona, NOT The Tempest as Edward Butscher inexplicably said in Method and Madness), those lines kept recurring to me. Despite reading 1300 pages of her letters from age 7 to 24, I'm not sure I know who Sylvia is.
I was fascinated with Sylvia Plath when I was 18 - I guess because of Letters Home, the book in which her mother published her heavily
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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

Other books in the series

Letters of Sylvia Plath (2 books)
  • The Letters of Sylvia Plath Vol 2: 1956-1963

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