Her Own Words Describe Her Best? Reconstructing Plath’s Original Ariel in Sylvia (2003) and Wintering (2003)
This article explores two of Sylvia Plath’s afterlives: John Brownlow and Christine Jeffs’ biopic Sylvia (2003) and Kate Moses’s novel Wintering (2003). Contrary to Frieda Hughes’s assertion that such works attempt to “breathe life into” Plath (xvii), I show how these are textual resuscitations, engaging intimately with Plath’s then-unpublished Ariel manuscript. I explore how both writers’ decision to omit the second wave of Ariel poems contests Hughes’s arrangement of the collection, and severs the link, fostered in Ariel and confirmed in Birthday Letters, between Plath’s writing and her death. I then show how the texts’ readings of Ariel nuance interpretations of Plath herself, emphasising her pursuit of transcendence over her drive towards self-destruction. These biographical works ultimately yield significant critical implications, popularising long-standing scholarly debates about “why the differences between the two version of Ariel matter” (Badia 162) and catalysing the canon-reformation that produced Ariel: The Restored Edition.
open access journal
Citation : Layne, B. (2019) Her Own Words Describe Her Best? Reconstructing Plath’s Original Ariel in Sylvia (2003) and Wintering (2003). Plath Profiles, 11 (10), pp. 108-130
Research Institute : Institute of English
- School of Humanities