FBC: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

04 June, 2013

When I was still in high school, I took an American Literature class at the community college. The professor (who to this day, though he will never know it, was one of the most influential people in my life) had us keep a writing journal of sorts. We could mostly write whatever we wanted as long as it was relevant to the assignments that were given (i.e. our thoughts about what we'd read, answers to discussion questions, etc.) and he'd read what we wrote and give us our grades.

One of the assigned readings was a poem by Sylvia Plath. I sadly don't remember which of her poems we were supposed to read, but I do remember looking at it and thinking he had lost his ever living mind. It didn't make sense to me at all. I couldn't wrap my head around the imagery and I remember feeling like I was going to lose my mind if I kept reading it.

I also remember filling page after page in my journal about how much I hated it, how much more complicated the poem was than it really needed to be and that for me it fed into the generalized notion that poets were pretentious and held their intellectual prowess above the rest of us "regular folks" by whipping up their imaginations in a blender and dumping it onto a plate for the rest of us to sort out. I ended that journal entry by proudly proclaiming "Poems like this one are why most of us HATE poetry". His response was simply "Yet it is also the reason why some of us love poetry".

That was the only journal entry for that class where I received an A.

And I haven't read anything by Ms. Plath since.

This months selection for the Feminist Book Club is The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I picked up a copy of the book after work today while running errands with all the intentions in the world to read a chapter or two--I sadly have no idea if that is actually going to happen. Since that assignment in my American Lit class, I've had this nagging sensation that I'm not "intelligent" enough for some authors, and Plath is on that list. I'm hoping it's just my previous encounter with Plath's work, but I'm more than a little intimidated by this book. I am however going to give it my best shot and will report back with how well I did.

Are you joining up this month with the book club?

Do you have any authors that intimidate you?


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  1. I read this book in high school; I really need to re-read it. And I hate that feeling I get when I read authors and get that "I'm not smart enough for this" vibe. There definitely are some pretentious sorts out there.

  2. I try to pretend I never had to read Heart of Darkness even though I did in high school as well. :D

  3. I'm glad I'm not alone in feeling that way about some authors.


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