‘Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen.’ Margaret Atwood’s chilling cautionary tale is illustrated by the Balbusso sisters.
The Bell Jar
Illustrated by Alexandra Levasseur
Introduced by Heather Clark
A witty and melancholic portrayal of 1950s New York set against the backdrop of mental illness, Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar is newly introduced by Plath biographer and scholar, Heather Clark, and features seven ethereal illustrations by Alexandra Levasseur.
Achingly sad, darkly humorous and engaging, The Bell Jar is a beautifully written coming-of-age novel. This startling new edition celebrates its literary status and timeless subject matter. Plath biographer Heather Clark has written a fascinating new introduction exploring the author’s life, and the edition is sensitively illustrated by painter and sculptor Alexandra Levasseur.
The Bell Jar brought mental health and the feminist agenda to the fore through the frustrated eyes of an aspiring writer trying to be taken seriously in misogynistic 1950s America. When exploring Esther’s spiralling descent into breakdown, Plath’s quick wit and wry observations were viewed by some critics as flippant, and the novel courted controversy for its supposed glamourisation of mental illness. As a mirror of the author’s life, it is a raw and real insight into a journey that is not exclusively harrowing and painful; there is hope and happiness too.
Bound in blocked cloth
Set in Verdigris
Frontispiece and 6 colour illustrations (including a double-page spread)
8 ¾˝ x 5 ½˝
As the author of acclaimed Sylvia Plath biography, Red Comet, and Professor of Contemporary Poetry at the University of Huddersfield, Heather Clark is one of the foremost experts on Plath’s life and work. Her newly commissioned introduction explores The Bell Jar within the framework of Plath’s gender, illness and precocious talent; each conspiring against her at a time in history when ‘a paternalistic psychiatric system […] regarded ambition in women as neurotic’. This created the perfect storm for mental breakdown and Plath’s only novel revealed the horrors of female psychiatric assessment and treatment in Cold War-era America to a mainstream readership.
Plath’s turmoil is interpreted with a delicate and intuitive hand by Alexandra Levasseur. The widely exhibited Canadian painter, sculptor and filmmaker captures the essence of Esther Greenwood’s physical and psychological journey in seven incredible illustrations that will resonate with Plath fans and new readers alike.
The year is 1953 and 19-year-old Esther Greenwood has won a coveted internship at a fashion magazine in New York. However, the glamorous and frivolous lifestyle is at odds with her personal values and academic ambition, and her life rapidly unravels over the course of the summer. One of the great poetic novels of the 20th century, The Bell Jar remains essential reading.
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