Bell Jar

Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2000.

Reason read: In June there are overnight Suicide Prevention Walks around the country.

Frances McCullough’s 1996 introduction to The Bell Jar calls it a twin to Catcher in the Rye as it was published on Rye’s twentieth anniversary.

I think it is safe to say The Bell Jar is a classic. Haunting and hurtful, you have to almost flinch away from the mental illness that descends on protagonist Esther Greenwood. Every time she fixates on a way to commit suicide you wonder, does she actually go through with it this time? Does she succeed? Then when you discover The Bell Jar is autobiographical it all makes sense and you think you know the answer.


There were so many different lines I wanted to quote. Because I connected to them so deeply, here are a few of my favorites, “There is something demoralizing about watching two people get more and more crazy about each other, especially when you are the only extra person in the room” (p 29), “There is nothing like puking with somebody to make you into old friends” (p 53), “I thought if only I had a keen, shapely bone structure to my face or could discuss politics shrewdly or was a famous writer Constantin might find me interesting enough to sleep with” (p 87) and “I tried to speak in a cool, calm way, but the zombie rose up in my throat and choked me off” (p 129).

Author fact: Plath died at the young age of 30 on February 11th, 1963. She used the pseudonym of Victoria Lucas from time to time. The Bell Jar was published under the name Lucas,

Book trivia: The Bell Jar was rejected as being too juvenile the first time it was submitted for publication.

Nancy said: Pearl called The Bell Jar “painful.” I would agree.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Girls Growing Up” (p 102).



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