This is not a biography’
In memory of Sandra LahireHow not to write a biography of Sylvia Plath? We might put the question another way. What is the relationship for a poet between writing a mind and writing a life? Does self-revelation (or confession, a label often used to describe the work of Plath and her contemporary Anne Sexton) lead us, not just into the inner recesses of the poet’s thought, but through the veils, behind the closed doors of her past? Do we enter the room, see the knife slit the finger, catch the raised voices, watch the vase shatter, hear the baby cry? Plath’s language is sensuous, evocative enough to bring all this, and a great deal more, to life. But the question still remains. How much do we know? And is the point to try and find out? Are we meant to be sleuths, piecing together fragment on fragment until the picture is spread before us? There she is! Sylvia Plath – nothing hidden. The true story told. Isn’t that why she wrote in the way she did? Isn’t that what she would have wanted, after all?
Read the rest at The London Review of Books