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Paperback Ariel: The Restored Edition: A Facsimile of Plath's Manuscript, Reinstating Her Original Selection and Arrangement Book

ISBN: 0060732601

ISBN13: 9780060732608

Ariel: The Restored Edition: A Facsimile of Plath's Manuscript, Reinstating Her Original Selection and Arrangement

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Book Overview

"Made up of poems that are so original in their style and so startlingly accomplished in their confessional voice that they helped change the direction of contemporary poetry, Ariel is a masterpiece." -- New York Observer

Sylvia Plath's famous collection, as she intended it.

When Sylvia Plath died, she not only left behind a prolific life but also her unpublished literary masterpiece,...

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The original Ariel

When Sylvia Plath stuck her head in an oven in 1963, she left behind a series of uniquely vicious, angry, cathartic poetry. One bundle was written between her separation from her husband Ted Hughes and her death in February 1963. The poems were entitled "Ariel" and she stopped working on them around November 1963. She wrote some more poems, the last ones days before her death, but they were not included in the original "Ariel" manuscript. After her death, Ted Hughes rearranged Ariel, taking out some of the original poems and inserting some of her last poems. Now, for the first time, we have the original Ariel manuscript, with all the excised poems reinserted and all the inserted poems excised. The differences between the two "Ariels" are a study in psychology. Hughes' editted "Ariel" is tragic: the last poem, "Edge", was also the last poem Plath ever wrote, and is obviously a poem about death: The woman is perfected. Her dead Body wears the smile of accomplishment, The illusion of a Greek necessity Flows in the scrolls of her toga, Her bare Feet seem to be saying: We have come so far, it is over. For Hughes, "Ariel" was a tragedy, with an angry and perhaps unbalanced woman fighting her internal demons until they ate her up "like air," as Plath would say in one of her most famous poems, "Lady Lazarus." Hughes' Ariel ends with Plath's figurative suicide. The guilt Hughes felt about his wife's death (he had an affair, and that set her off on her final manic depressive tailspin) was something he apparently never got over according to his family and friends. Before his death, he published a series of poems devoted to Plath called "Birthday Letters," and they are very touching -- a man facing death, still longing for a woman who died over 30 years ago. In "The Offers," (not in Birthday Letters), Hughes, Aeneas-like, meets Plath in the otherworld, and she sternly tells him, "This time, don't fail me." Plath's "Ariel," however, is quite different. Yes, "Daddy" is there, as is "Lady Lazarus," and now also a scathing poem called "The Rabbit Catcher" in which Plath describes her bond with Hughes thus: And we, too, had a relationship -- Tight wires between us, Pegs too deep to unroot, and a mind like a ring Sliding shut on some quick thing The constriction killing me also. Not exactly "feel good" poetry. However, Plath's "Ariel" is far from a poetic suicide note -- it is angry, it is vicious, but it is cathartic. The first word in the series of poems is "Love" and the final word is "spring." Reading Plath's "Ariel," one senses a woman excising her personal demons with words, stamping out her enemies (her husband, father, mother, romantic rivals) with poetic vitriol. The final poem included in Plath's manuscript is called "Wintering," but ends with the upbeat, life-affirming line: "The bees are flying. They taste the spring." This edition of "Ariel" has a foreward by Plaths daughter, Frieda Hughes, in which she tries both to defend her father against h

"Love set you going," she wrote, "like a fat gold watch."

Now at long last, we get the "Ariel" we deserve. Plath's admirers have been waiting a long time, since at least the early 1980s when Ted Hughes first revealed that he had changed the order of the poems in his wife's final manuscript. He had added some poems--the final, freezingly depressing ones--and then re-arranaged the bulk of the book to leave an impression of a woman gone over the brink into a chilling fugue state. Now Frieda Hughes, Plath's daughter, 2 when her mother killed herself, has performed a ritual act of atonement to her mother's memory, and given us the original, "happy" (relatively speaking) ARIEL which we have never been able to see. At $24,95, the book's a little expensive, but it feels as though money had been spent on its planning and execution, so you don't feel rooked. In one section, the gray paper on which the facsimile materials are printed is easy on the eyes, aiding the eye as it struggles with Plath's numerous emendations. We get the notes Plath wrote for her own use when she had to do that reading at the BBC towards the end, the more-British-than-thou reading we have grown to love and hate at the same time. Frieda Hughes contributes an interesting and contextualizing introduction in which she seeks to reconcile the differing viewpoints of her mother and father--a challenging task, but she's up to it. The book ends up with four of the bee-keeping poems--and another in the appendix, "The Swarm," which Sylvia kept changing her mind about including. Should she leave it in? Take it out? The title is in brackets. Thus the book ends with a hopeful note, with the freshness of Devon instead of the bleak London winter. It ends, pleasantly enough, with the words, "They taste the spring."

"The Voice of God": Sylvia Plath's Masterpiece

"I am writing the best poems of my life... They will make my name." --Sylvia Plath, on the Ariel poemsIt is a pity that Sylvia Plath is so underestimated--most people I know have never heard of her, and those who have dismiss her as an angry feminist who committed suicide. It is a sacrilege to sum up her person so: Plath is one of the most important poets of our century, and Ariel her most important work. In it one can find the famous poems "Daddy", in which Plath shakes loose her restraints on her resentment for her father, who died when she was young: "At twenty I tried to die/ And get back, back, back to you... But they pulled me out of the sack / And they stuck me together with glue." ; "Lady Lazarus", a commentary of death and disappointment, which reflects her situation with terrible lyricism; and "Fever 103°", which, to me, is almost mocking; and "Ariel", after which the collection is named. Ariel is fascinating--her skill with words, her wit, her self-control (for she obviously reigns herself in from being too emotional, too confessional, and yet one feels the pain and torment all the same, perhaps even more sharply), her ability to find Just the Right Words, is vivid and brilliant. When I finished Ariel, I was left with a feeling of vulnerability, pain, and enlightenment, as though I had seen what I had been missing all along and felt the absence of self-delusion deeply.I have always been disturbed by the idea that Plath's creative energy seemed to stream from the destructive void that she felt inside of her soul and shared with the world, with skill and admirable lyricism... and yet I think that this is what made her such a *different*, unique poet. "Dying / Is an art, like everything else." She did it exceptionally well. -- K. Rivera

An Insightful Depiction of a Human Condition

Ariel is a collection of the last poems Sylvia Plath ever wrote. Furthermore, the poems were written during the last months of her life, which were very bleak months indeed. Plath's husband, Ted Hughes, had just left her for another woman, and she was left to watch over her two young children in the middle of a freezing cold winter in a small apartment that was not heated. Because of these circumstances, a lot of the poems included in "Ariel" are depressing; however, the poems are also strikingly beautiful. They show the human condition at its absolute lowest point: hopeless, stark, terrifying.Plath eventually ends her life by commiting suicide in a dramatic way: sticking her head in an oven and leaving it there. It was her third suicide attempt, and the other two were pretty dramatic as well. Plath addresses these suicide attempts, and how it felt to survive the other two, in one of her most famous poems from Ariel, "Lady Lazarus": "I have done it again./ One year in every ten/ I manage it-/ A sort of walking miracle/ my skin Bright as a Nazi lampshade.../ And I a smiling woman/ am only thirty./ And like the cat I have nine times to die./ This is Number Three./ What a trash/ To annihilate each decade.../ Dying Is an art,/ like everything else/I do it exceptionally well./ Herr God, Herr Lucifer Beware/ Beware./ Out of the ash/ I rise with my red hair/ And I eat men like air."The Nazi theme continues in Plath's poem "Daddy", in which she accuses her father of being similar to Hitler, and compares her husband to her father as well, writing about how they both had negative influences in her life. "I have always been sacred of you,/ With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo./ And your neat mustache/ And your Aryan eye, bright blue./ Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You-/ Not God but a swastika/ So black no sky could squeak through./ Every woman adores a Fascist,/ The boot in the face, the brute/ Brute heart of a brute like you..../ I was ten when they buried you./ At twenty I tried to die/ And get back, back, back to you./ I thought even the bones would do./ But they pulled me out of the sack, And they stuck me together with glue./ And then I knew what to do./ I made a model of you, A man in black with a Meinkampf look/ And a love of the rack and the screw./ And I said I do, I do./ So daddy, I'm finally through./ If I've killed one man, I've killed two-/ The vampire who said he was you/ And drank my blood for a year,/ Seven years, if you want to know./ Daddy, you can lie back now."These are two of the most well-known examples of the bleakness but truthfulness in Plath's poetry. They reach toward the human emotions everyone knows- pain, sorrow, bitterness, lonliness. However, Plath also wrote some humourous and sweet poems which are included in Ariel, including poems about her children and good memories. These poems add a lightness to the book which is otherwise dark and dreary. Although the reader is tempted to hate a book filled with such depressing poetry, no


These poems are scathing and beautiful. It is not a long work, but it requires multiple readings to break into its core. A greatly UNDERrated work that should have won the Pulitzer, I think "Ariel" stands alone much stronger than her Collected Poems, which actually DID win the Pulitzer. The emotions are huge and fiery, and the language is second to none. Plath has an ear for music in language, and shows it wonderfully in "Lady Lazarus," "Daddy," "Fever 103," and "Ariel," where she rides her horse into "the red eye, the cauldren of morning." Brilliant work by a sometimes misinterpreted and mis-categorized writer. Don't read it to wallow in depression-- read it to hear a unique and truly gifted voice. Brava, Sylvia Plath! Your time came too soon.

Ariel: The Restored Edition Mentions in Our Blog

Ariel: The Restored Edition in Sylvia and Ted: Their Troubled Romance
Sylvia and Ted: Their Troubled Romance
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • February 26, 2021

Sixty-five years ago today, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes met at a party in Cambridge. Their connection was immediate, powerful, and violent—a portent of their future together. Almost exactly seven years later Plath would die by suicide.

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