Friday, July 11, 2014
Classics Spin: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The most recent Classics Club Spin dealt me The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Our task was to read and review the chosen book by July 7. Surprisingly, I finished this novel toward the end of May. Unsurprisingly, I'm still late posting my thoughts.
Originally published in 1963, The Bell Jar struck me as very readable and insightful, yet painful and tragic. One can't help but wonder exactly where autobiographical facts end and fictional details begin. I appreciated the seemingly accurate, honest portrayal of slipping into a deep depression, but overall this was not an especially enjoyable or memorable reading experience. Plath's summer in NYC was the most interesting aspect of the novel for me. I might have preferred reading Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 by Elizabeth Winder.
A quick glance at goodreads ratings and blogger reviews tells me that The Bell Jar is a well-loved classic. Could being over 50 at the initial reading have influenced my reaction? This seems like a book I would have loved in my 20's and possibly even into my 30's. Maybe I should chalk it up to the "Catcher in the Rye effect"... a book many young adults love, but which loses its luster for some middle-aged readers.
Bottom line - I wish I'd read The Bell Jar in my 20's. Perhaps it doesn't shine quite as brilliantly for the over-50 set.