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The Curious Curator's Book Blog

Contemporary art curator. Student. Book addict. Art lover. Geek. Dreamer. Curious about everything. Check out my website http://thecuriouscurator.com/

Currently reading

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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

Having just finished writing my thesis (yay, by the way!) I was giddy and anxious to start reading non-research books again. So anxious, actually, that when I tried to choose a book to start reading, I couldn't make up my mind about it, because choosing one would mean not choosing the others, and I wanted to read them all, and the sooner the better (hence the quote above). I ended up being drawn to The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath because I had never read anything written by her. It was only after I sat down and read the first pages that I realized this would be an utterly depressing book. According to the friend I borrowed the book from, I really ought to have known beforehand that it was not the best choice for someone who is trying to adapt to post-thesis life. Still, I decided to press on, and I'm glad I did.

Truth is, this is an exceptional book, unlike anything I've read before. It is beautifully written - there is something about the prose that feels delicate and artfully woven. I found the writing erratic, drawn-out and floundering at times, but ultimately it suited the book's theme, and made it into one of the most realistic portraits of depression I've ever read. It is interesting to see how society's view of mental illnesses has evolved and improved. 

That being said, I failed to feel completely emotionally engaged with this book, which lowered its impact on me. There was something unmistakably angsty and self-obsessed about the narrator / author, which in turn made me feel distanced. On the other hand, I admire the honesty and clarity with which Sylvia Plath explored the onset and development of mental illness, so I still definitely recommend this book.