Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Bell Jar

"If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I'm neurotic as hell. I'll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days."
I've found the workings of a mad woman an interesting read. Probably because I am one myself. Haha. Sylvia Plath's slow descent into madness, which then translated across into her writings (notably the semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar) gained her a cult following and produced one of the most defining classic pieces of literature to date.

Her life fascinates me. Of course, this is the woman who committed suicide by famously sticking her head in an oven. Her work was and still is hailed as a major work of feminist fiction, tackling sensitive issues such as 'sexism, materialism, and complacency of American society'. The feminist movement, fascination with death, and mental illness were at that time contemporary preoccupations. But The Bell Jar made its impact in an oddly different manner. It was such a personal look at a young woman's struggle with suicidal depression - very much a reflection of the author's life.

A piece of confessional literature is, for me, extremely hard to come across. I tend to shy away from emotionally heavy issues such as depression. I fear that reading too much of it will rub off on me in a bad way. Still, having read Plath's one and only novel made me realise why the book is categorised under 'Classics' in bookstores and how much her works have contributed to feminism over the years. A bizarre read but necessary to understand the mind of depression.

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