Book Review of The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

The labor of writing. It has structure, direction, and purpose. You’re taught to create a rhythm out of writing. A tune that only you can play. You visualize what it means, give it body, a beating heart, veins, an assimilating spirit. To a point where you expect the words to flow a certain way. When they do, you lose their meaning. When they don’t, you’re left guessing where the real you is.

You neglect the body and mind that is, in fact, the tangible being. You slip out of this bodily apparatus. You deny your eyes that can see, your ears that can hear, and your mouth that can speak. You neglect the body you sacrificed for your writing. But you know that if you die, the words die with you.

So you continue to flow, even if words no longer serve you, resolve you, pardon you. Perhaps, the writing is you and your only possession. But what you write never possesses you. Perhaps, what words are are a compromise; a bargain between who you really are and who you want to be.

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath is impenetrable. It’s everything for a woman. Imagine descending deeper and deeper into someone’s soul; extracting fragmentary, broken glimpses of one’s intelligent, ambitious, lurking, and unafraid outpourings. If the words tremble, you tremble with them. The journal features her curiosity, her inwardness, and her entire personhood. To read it is to inhale and exhale in her every breath. However, “once a poem is made available to the public, the right of interpretation belongs to the reader.”

These are Sylvia Plath’s own words. And I can never turn them down. I’m torn as an observer of the life contained in this journal. I’ve experienced a range of emotions while reading it; anger, sadness, solace, strength, forlornness. Quite irreconcilable in the face of her gasping thoughts and self-ness. So emphatic are her mirrors of awareness that she loses herself in them. Reading her journals, I was delivered into a brooding and restless realm; that contained her capacity to be perceptive, to grow, to live, and to write.


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