Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sylva Plath's "Confessions"

By now Rosenthal's arugment that Plath was a "confessionalist" have pretty much been scrapped.

In her briliant study of Plath, Sylvia Plath and the Theatre of Mourning, Christina Britzolakis includes this note of Plath's that she found in the Plath archives in Smith College:

“Friday I got an idear. I am now in the midst of writing the biggest true Confession I have ever written, all for the remote possibility of gaignigh (that word the lady said is gaining, as in weight) filthy lucer, a contest in True Story is in the offing, with all sorts of Big Money prizes, being a most mercenary individual, because money can buy trip to europe, theaters, chop-houses, and other ill Famed what-nots. I am trying out for it, all you have to do, the blurb ways is write the story of your life or somebody else’s life from the heart. and a sexy old heart it is. grammar and spelling mistakes won’t count in the judging, says the rules , only it must be written in English, and not on onion skin paper or in pencil… anyhow, Sylvia just finished the roughdraft of a whopping True Confession of over 40 (you can count them) pages, trying to capture the style, and let me tell you, my supercilious attitude about the people who write Confessions has diminished, it takes a good tight plot and a slick ease that are not picked up overnight like a cheap whore. so tomorrow, I rewrite the monstrosity I have just illegitimately (everything gets done amid great conflict) delivered.”

I think that puts a pretty interesting spin on the whole "confessional" business. It also bring in the conflict of art as a birthing process, which when done for money (prostitution) becomes illegitimate and monstrous. This trope that has been used since way back - even Mary Shelley talks about Frankenstein in these terms. What makes that comparison relevant is the Gothic element of Plath's work.

There is also the whole idea of pop cuylture as feminine and fleshy (I love the gaining weight comment) that return in Plath's poetry.


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