Bell Jar, The

Plath, Sylvia

Published by Faber & Faber, 1966
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Faber & Faber, London, 1966. Hardcover. Book Condition: Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine. First Edition thus. First Printing under the author's name. Small 8vo; [4], 258pp. Publisher's black cloth, spine lettered in gilt (still brilliant); illustrated dust jacket priced at 25s. A Very Fine copy, square, tight and unmarked, in a Near Fine jacket. Often identified as the second edition, this is, in fact, the third, the second being a reissue by Heinemann under its Contemporary Fiction imprint, still bearing the pseudonym 'Victoria Lucas,' in 1964. Plath's only novel, this roman à clef was published just one month before her suicide. A recent reviewer wrote, "Sylvia Plath¿s only novel was originally published in January 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas, and became tangled up almost immediately in the drama of her suicide." Her book became a modern classic, reprinted in scores of editions in many languages. A true first edition in original DJ, published by William Heinemann in 1963, (reissued in 1964) is very scarce and worth thousands. This copy of Faber & Faber edition, published in 1966, is a second issue of the first and only edition in English to be published under Plath¿s own name. It is in Fine condition, black cloth with bright gilt lettering on the spine. The iconic DJ is Near Fine, with a thin 1" vertical scratch on the front cover and slight rubbing at two corners. Price of "L1.75 net" at bottom of front flyleaf. (First issue of 1966 edition had price of 25s). This is the second impression of the first edition thus, the 1966 Faber & Faber edition, reprinted in 1971 and preceding the first U.S. edition, published by Harper and Row also in 1971. The copyright page states, "First published in this edition 1966 by Faber & Faber Limited, Reprinted 1971." Here is the memorable opening sentence: ¿It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn¿t know what I was doing in New York.¿ Reviewer Hadley Freeman writes, "After this brittle, dangerous introduction to the summer of 1953, we meet Esther Greenwood who is, Plath tells us, ¿supposed to be having the time of my life.But Esther/Sylvia is far too driven, damaged and/or neurotic, and with too much emotional baggage, to have a ball in Manhattan. The story of her life and times, however, is told with blistering honesty, and vivid attention to detail. It¿s a raw, unsettling book with flashes of brilliance, a roman à clef that¿s also a long, tormented footnote to Plath¿s poetry.Her painfully autobiographical novel draws heavily on her experience.With hindsight, it¿s easy to pick up the smell of death from Esther¿s account. Hardly a page goes by without a reference to a dead baby, a cadaver, or her late father (¿dead since I was nine¿). The other man in her life, Yale boyfriend Buddy Willard, troubles her spirit in other ways, too.Plath¿s essential theme, a staccato drumbeat, is Esther¿s obsession with the opposite sex.Having failed on another date, in which she is labeled a ¿slut¿, she hurls her clothes off her hotel roof, and returns home for a suicidal summer, a worsening depression which she compares to suffocating under a ¿bell jar.¿ Esther¿s predicament, more generally, is how to develop a mature identity, as a woman, and to be true to that self rather than conform to societal norms. It¿s this quest that makes The Bell Jar a founding text of Anglo-American feminism." Eventually, as Esther spirals lower, with successive suicide attempts, she is given shock treatment (ECT), echoing the Rosenbergs¿ fate, in horrifying scenes, graphically described." There are countless excellent essays on Sylvia Plath and her life. One of them is Elizabeth Hardwick's review article in the NY Review of Books "On Sylvia Plath," August 12, 1971. By any measure, this copy of Plath's book, although not a true first, is a rare and valuable literary creation. Photos provided to motivated buyers. Bookseller Inventory # 160709

Bibliographic Details

Title: Bell Jar, The
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: 1966
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine
Edition: 1st Edition

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Plath, Sylvia
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