Breaking Down Plath

Breaking Down Plath

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A practical guide to Sylvia Plath's works for middle and secondary school students

One of the most dynamic and admired poets of the 20th century, Sylvia Plath wrote work about war, motherhood, jealousy, rage, grief, death, and mental illness that challenged preconceptions about what poetry should be about. The enduring power of Plath's poetry and prose continues to attract and fascinate a multitude of readers. Best known for her poems Daddy and Lady Lazarus and the novel The Bell Jar, Plath starkly expressed a sense of alienation closely linked to both her personal experiences and the to the wider situation of women throughout mid-twentieth-century America. With an eye towards demythologizing Plath and focusing on her achievements, Breaking Down Plath aims to contextualize Plath's work in the larger scheme of Cold War-era gender politics, debates about mental health, and anxiety about global conflict.

Breaking Down Plath informs readers of essential facts about Sylvia Plath's life and explores the works of the influential and controversial American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. Author Patricia Grisafi contextualizes and clarifies important underlying themes in Plath's works while providing insight into how interest in Plath's work developed, how the story of Plath's life has been told, what we still need to discover about her, and why her life and art matter.

Breaking Down Plath:

  • Presents a critical biography of Plath's life
  • Offers a thematic tour through Plath's, short fiction, journals, and letters
  • Explores the recurrent themes in Plath's poetry
  • Features an overview of the reception of Plath's work
  • Discusses the role of Plath in contemporary popular culture

This book is a primer for younger or new Plath readers and a welcome addition to the toolbox used by educators, parents, and anyone interested in or studying Plath's life and work.

Author: Patricia Grisafi
Publisher: Jossey-Bass
Published: 02/02/2022
Pages: 128
Binding Type: Paperback
Weight: 0.35lbs
Size: 8.70h x 5.90w x 0.50d
ISBN: 9781119782384
Age Range: 14-17

About the Author

Patricia Grisafi, PhD, is a freelance writer, editor, and educator. She received her BA in English from Skidmore College in 2005 and her PhD in English from Fordham University in 2016. She taught writing and literature for eight years including one year as a postdoctoral fellow. Her work has been featured in The Guardian, Salon, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Vice, Narratively, Catapult, NBC, Inside Higher Ed, and elsewhere. She lives in New York City with her husband, son, and two rescue dogs.