The Bell Jar

Front Cover
HarperCollins, Aug 30, 1996 - Fiction - 320 pages
1331 Reviews
The Bell Jar is a classic of American literature, with over two million copies sold in this country. This extraordinary work chronicles the crackup of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, successful -- but slowly going under, and maybe for the last time. Step by careful step, Sylvia Plath takes us with Esther through a painful month in New York as a contest-winning junior editor on a magazine, her increasingly strained relationships with her mother, and with the boy she dated in college, and eventually, devastatingly, into the madness itself. The reader is drawn into her breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies.

Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is rare in any novel. It points to the fact that The Bell Jar is a largely autobiographical work about Plath's own summer of 1953, when she was a guest editor at Mademoiselle and went through a breakdown. It reveals so much about the sources of Sylvia Plath's own tragedy that its publication was considered a landmark in literature.

"Esther Greenwood's account of her years in The Bell Jar is as clear and readable as it is witty and disturbing ... [This] is not a potboiler, nor a series of ungrateful caricatures; it is literature." -New York Times

This special 25th-anniversary edition includes a new foreword by Frances McCullough,who was the Harper & Row editor for the original edition, about the untold story of The Bell Jar's first American publication.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
502
4 stars
509
3 stars
210
2 stars
89
1 star
21

I hate writing reviews that contrast popular thought. - Goodreads
But beyond the plot her prose is intoxicating. - Goodreads
I thought it'll be very boring and hard to read. - Goodreads
I found the imagery and writing lovely. - Goodreads
The ending was a bit of a let down. - Goodreads
The best thing about the book was Plath's writing. - Goodreads

Review: The Bell Jar

User Review  - Samantha - Goodreads

This is honestly one of the best books I've read and Plath's writing is absolutely beautiful. I definitely plan on reading some of her poetry and teaching a unit on Plath somehow when I become a teacher! Read full review

Review: The Bell Jar

User Review  - Melissa - Goodreads

Beyond a doubt Sylvia is a wonderful and insightful writer. She is very talented and would have done great things if not for her death. This book is written well and she can link words like not many ... Read full review

All 11 reviews »

About the author (1996)

Sylvia Plath was born in 1932 in Massachusetts. Her books include the poetry collections The Colossus, Crossing the Water, Winter Trees, Ariel, and The Collected Poems, which won the Pulitzer Prize. A complete and uncut facsimile edition of Ariel was published in 2004 with her original selection and arrangement of poems. She was married to the poet Ted Hughes, with whom she had a daughter, Frieda, and a son, Nicholas. She died in London in 1963.

Bibliographic information