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Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath

Heather Clark

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JONATHAN CAPE
01 December 2020
Biography; Biography: historical, political & military; Biography: literary; Diaries, letters & journals; Literary studies: poetry & poets; Abbey's Double Rewards
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The first biography of this great and tragic poet that takes advantage of a wealth of new material, this is an unusually balanced, comprehensive and definitive life of Sylvia Plath.

Determined not to read Plath's work as if her every act, from childhood on, was a harbinger of her tragic fate, Clark presents new materials about Plath's scientist father, her juvenile writings, and her psychiatric treatment, and evokes a culture in transition in the mid-twentieth century, in the shadow of the atom bomb and the Holocaust, as she explores Sylvia's world- her early relationships and determination not to become a conventional woman and wife; her conflicted ties to her well-meaning, widowed mother; her troubles at the hands of an unenlightened mental-health industry; and her Cambridge years and thunderclap meeting with Ted Hughes, a true marriage of minds that would change the course of poetry in English.

Clark's clear-eyed sympathy for Hughes, his lover Assia Wevill, and other demonized players in the arena of Plath's suicide promotes a deeper understanding of her final days, with their outpouring of first-rate poems. Along with illuminating readings of the poems themselves, Clark's meticulous, compassionate research brings us closer than ever to the spirited woman and visionary artist who blazed a trail that still lights the way for women poets the world over.
By:   Heather Clark
Imprint:   JONATHAN CAPE
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 156mm, 
ISBN:   9781787332539
ISBN 10:   1787332535
Pages:   1168
Publication Date:   01 December 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Forthcoming

Heather Clark earned her bachelor's degree in English Literature from Harvard University and her doctorate in English from Oxford University. She is the author of two award-winning books on post-war poetry, The Grief of Influence- Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes and The Ulster Renaissance- Poetry in Belfast 1962-1972. She divides her time between Chappaqua, New York, and Yorkshire, England, where she is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at the University of Huddersfield.

Reviews for Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath

With Red Comet Heather Clark has produced a superb biography, scholarly, acutely perceptive and beautifully written. She shows a profound understanding not only of Plath and her work, but also of the worlds she inhabited on both sides of the Atlantic. This is without doubt one of the most remarkable biographies of the present era. -- Selina Hastings, author of The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham An exciting contribution not only to Plath studies but to biography, poetics, cultural history, and feminist history and theory, Red Comet is an extraordinary book. Clark animates Plath anew, both through the very dailiness of her life - rendered gripping and engrossing - and through the brilliant situating of Plath (and her stormy marriage to Ted Hughes) in the larger, indelibly evoked Anglo-American poetic context. Clark delivers a brilliant scholarly exegesis in vivid prose that renders Plath's life into art. This is the major biography of this major poet that we have long awaited. -- Mary V. Dearborn, author of Ernest Hemingway: A Biography Finally, the biography that Sylvia Plath deserves, one that takes her seriously as both a poet and a person. Combining rigorous research with in-depth literary analysis and immersive style, Heather Clark's magisterial book not only traces Plath's influences and inspirations, but also chronicles her often-tumultuous relationships with respect and empathy. A spectacular achievement. -- Ruth Franklin, author of Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life


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