Ariel's Gift: A Commentary on Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes

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9780571205264: Ariel's Gift: A Commentary on Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes

Erica Wagner provides a comprehensive guide to the poems that must constitute one of the most extraordinary and powerful volumes published in the last century. When Ted Hughes's Birthday Letters was published in 1998, it was greeted with astonishment and acclaim. Few suspected that Ted Hughes had been at work, for a quarter of a century, on a cycle of poems addressed almost entirely to his first wife, the American poet Sylvia Plath. In Ariel's Gift, Erica Wagner offers a commentary on the poems, pointing the reader towards the events that shaped them, and, crucially, showing how they draw upon Plath's own work.

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About the Author:

Erica Wagner was born in New York City in 1967. She moved to Britain in the 1980s and now lives in London, where she works as Literary Editor of The Times. In 1997 she published a book of short stories, Gravity (Granta), and three years later, following the publication of Ted Hughes's Birthday Letters, a biographical gloss on that book, Ariel's Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and the Story of Birthday Letters (Faber & Faber). Her stories have been widely anthologised and been broadcast on the radio; her poems have appeared in The TLS and PNReview. She now edits the Books section that appears every Saturday in The Times, and writes a weekly column in that section, as well as reviews and articles. She's interviewed such writers as Seamus Heaney, Donna Tartt, Maurice Sendak, Philip Pullman, Gitta Sereny, Paul Auster, Alan Garner, Peter Ackroyd, Bill Bryson and Nick Hornby. She reviews regularly for The New York Times, and also appears frequently on the radio and on television. She has been a guest on such programmes as Today, Front Row, The Culture Show, and (in the USA) Charlie Rose and Larry King Live. She has judged many literary prizes; the Man Booker in 2002 (when the winner was Yann Martel's Life of Pi), the Orange Prize, the Whitbread First Novel Award, and the Forward Prize. She sits on the Executive Committee of PEN. Erica is a fencer (epee), loves to cook, knit, sing and ride on her scooter (the push kind, not the motor kind). She loves to listen to stories as well as read them, and seeks out fine storytellers from all over the world. She is deeply attached to the Brooklyn Bridge, and often travels back to New York to cross the East River on its span. She is married to the writer Francis Gilbert, author of I'm a Teacher, Get Me Out of Here!, Teacher on the Run and Yob Nation. They have a son, Theodore.

From Publishers Weekly:

This erudite critical study, together with the Unabridged Diaries of Sylvia Plath released last year, breathes new life into Plath scholarship, ironically in this case through the study of her husband's poetry, particularly Birthday Letters (published in 1998 shortly before his death), which, Wagner, literary editor of the London Times, asserts, "demonstrates the extent to which the poets influenced each other," and then goes on to offer ample evidence, grounding particular poetic images and phrases in specific events of Plath's and Hughes's lives. Hughes's love poetry in Birthday Letters overtly refers to his first meeting of Sylvia at Oxford: "Maybe I noticed you./ .../ Your exaggerated American/ Grin for the cameras, the judges, the strangers, the frighteners." Another poem, about their honeymoon to Spain, notes that "Spain/ was the land of your dreams: the dust-red cadaver/ You dared not wake with...." To understand the complexities of Hughes and Plath's relationship, however, Wagner has had to touch upon one of the literary world's most controversial, and often ugly, disputes: to what degree if any did Hughes contribute to his wife's depression and subsequent suicide at age 30? Fortunately, Wagner is not interested in either launching crude attacks on or apologizing for Hughes. Her clear and careful scholarship allows readers to come to their own conclusions. She encourages readers to stop playing the blame game with these two gifted poets, whose work and lives were undoubtedly influenced by their marriage to each other. In Wagner's own no-nonsense phrasing, her superb study "is an attempt to open up this dialogue between two people both now dead and make [it]... more accessible to the general reader." 8 pages of photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)Forecast: The publication of Birthday Letters created quite a stir. With the recent publication of Plath's unabridged diaries, and Wagner's moderate attitude toward the Plath/Hughes debate, which will undoubtedly be controversial, this could see lively sales.

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Book Description FABER FABER, United Kingdom, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Main. 198 x 127 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Erica Wagner provides a comprehensive guide to the poems that must constitute one of the most extraordinary and powerful volumes published in the last century. When Ted Hughes s Birthday Letters was published in 1998, it was greeted with astonishment and acclaim. Few suspected that Ted Hughes had been at work, for a quarter of a century, on a cycle of poems addressed almost entirely to his first wife, the American poet Sylvia Plath. In Ariel s Gift, Erica Wagner offers a commentary on the poems, pointing the reader towards the events that shaped them, and, crucially, showing how they draw upon Plath s own work. Bookseller Inventory # AA99780571205264

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Book Description FABER FABER, United Kingdom, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Main. 198 x 127 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Erica Wagner provides a comprehensive guide to the poems that must constitute one of the most extraordinary and powerful volumes published in the last century. When Ted Hughes s Birthday Letters was published in 1998, it was greeted with astonishment and acclaim. Few suspected that Ted Hughes had been at work, for a quarter of a century, on a cycle of poems addressed almost entirely to his first wife, the American poet Sylvia Plath. In Ariel s Gift, Erica Wagner offers a commentary on the poems, pointing the reader towards the events that shaped them, and, crucially, showing how they draw upon Plath s own work. Bookseller Inventory # AA99780571205264

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Book Description Faber and Faber. Book Condition: New. Ted Hughes's "Birthday letters", published in 1998, was greeted with astonishment and acclaim. In "Ariel's gift", Erica Wagner provides a commentary to the poems, pointing the reader towards the events that shaped them, and, crucially, showing how they draw upon Plath's own work. Num Pages: 240 pages, 8pp b&w halftones, indexes. BIC Classification: 2AB; BG; DC; DSBH; DSC. Category: (G) General (US: Trade); (P) Professional & Vocational; (UP) Postgraduate, Research & Scholarly; (UU) Undergraduate. Dimension: 195 x 130 x 18. Weight in Grams: 196. . 2001. New ed. Paperback. . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780571205264

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Book Description Faber and Faber, 2001. Book Condition: New. Ted Hughes's "Birthday letters", published in 1998, was greeted with astonishment and acclaim. In "Ariel's gift", Erica Wagner provides a commentary to the poems, pointing the reader towards the events that shaped them, and, crucially, showing how they draw upon Plath's own work. Num Pages: 240 pages, 8pp b&w halftones, indexes. BIC Classification: 2AB; BG; DC; DSBH; DSC. Category: (G) General (US: Trade); (P) Professional & Vocational; (UP) Postgraduate, Research & Scholarly; (UU) Undergraduate. Dimension: 195 x 130 x 18. Weight in Grams: 196. . 2001. New ed. Paperback. . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780571205264

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Book Description Faber & Faber. Paperback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, Ariel's Gift: A Commentary on Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes (Main), Erica Wagner, Robbie Millen, Erica Wagner provides a comprehensive guide to the poems that must constitute one of the most extraordinary and powerful volumes published in the last century. When Ted Hughes's Birthday Letters was published in 1998, it was greeted with astonishment and acclaim. Few suspected that Ted Hughes had been at work, for a quarter of a century, on a cycle of poems addressed almost entirely to his first wife, the American poet Sylvia Plath. In Ariel's Gift, Erica Wagner offers a commentary on the poems, pointing the reader towards the events that shaped them, and, crucially, showing how they draw upon Plath's own work. Bookseller Inventory # B9780571205264

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