22 Jun University of York
University of York
Sylvia Plath loved mermaids and fairytale princesses and glamour girls. ‘Ocean 1212-W’ is not the only place where we glimpse her ‘belief in mermaids.
The fairytales are not confined to her poems (‘The Disquieting Muses’, ‘Bluebeard’ Cinderella’, and ‘The Princess and the Goblins’, to name but 4).
The glamour girls step out of the pages of her journals, which are dotted with references to Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, and Elizabeth Taylor.
These fascinations can be traced in the dynamic connection between Plath’s writing and her lifelong practice as a visual artist, and reveal an alternative fantasy world that is prompted by Plath’s simultaneous impulse towards complicity and critique.
My own impulse when opening Chanel Jewelry Eye Rhymes for the very first time was not to read, but to appear. Initial and foremost, Connors and Bayley present a rich and beautifully reproduced collection of Plath’s visual art.
Eye Rhymes place in the public domain, in most situations for the 1st time, a massive array of pictures. These are drawn from Plath’s lifelong production of illustrated greeting cards for her family, paper dolls with comprehensive film star wardrobes, paintings, drawings, collages, art scrapbooks, and doodles in the margins of her personal written texts and notes.
Plath’s art is very good it is worth seeking at in its own proper. Moreover, it adds to our understanding of Plath’s all round value and her imaginative landscape.
Connors’s essay is the crucial equivalent of a novella, taking up 140 of the book’s 233 essay pages. It is an impressively nicely informed piece, the product of lengthy immersion in the Plath archives.
Connors delivers a detailed account of Plath’s lifelong movement ‘between art-generating and writing’ and tends to make the critical point that Plath deployed a ‘wide range of styles, an experimental approach to the arts also reflected in her writing genres’.
Like the other pieces in Eye Rhymes, this essay takes seriously all of Plath’s textual and visual production, quietly operating Jewelry On Sale against a prevalent view that praises poems over prose or valorises the late function by dismissing the earlier.
There are numerous fine details in Connors’s piece. Connors acknowledges Aurelia Plath’s part in collecting ‘what is surely one particular of the most full records of a great artist’s life ever assembled’.
She observes Plath’s ‘habit from childhood’ of ‘writing even though looking out the window’ concern about ‘which color of ink to use for her writing’, and focus to the ‘rhythmic style of white snow on black wire’ in a photo Plath took of a winter scene. All of these situations illustrate the crossover in Plath’s mind amongst linguistic and visual activities.
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