The Bell Jar

Thursday, 23 January 2003

I fin­ished The Bell Jar last night. I can’t re­al­ly say that it blew me away. The ob­vi­ous au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal ref­er­ences to Plath’s own life were rather…obvious, and the de­pic­tion of men­tal de­cay and re­birth didn’t do much for me ei­ther. Granted, since the nar­ra­tor is the crazy one, the nar­ra­tive is go­ing to be col­ored by and twist­ed by hes­ti­tan­cy and out­right re­fusal to tell us every­thing. For in­stance, Esther hates Buddy Willard. But if you think about the times you ac­tu­al­ly meet Buddy he’s not that bad of a guy. I didn’t like the asy­lum bits ei­ther. they seemed clich , per­haps this is be­cause of my dis­tance from when peo­ple still got shock treat­ments. of course they are hor­ri­ble. al­so, since it is set in the ber-re­stric­tive and con­ser­v­a­tive post-war years, the McCarthyite era, the prop­er things to do etc. that Esther has prob­lems with just bored me. things have changed, but The Bell Jar hasn’t. it is one of those works that is rad­i­cal for its time but seems stuffy and whiny to us young’uns.

i think i don’t like it be­cause it is too at­tached to the time it was writ­ten. now it seems a pe­ri­od piece, and the ‘50s are kitschy that any­thing about them doesn’t in­ter­est me much.