Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath (Paperback)

Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath By Heather Clark Cover Image
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Description


PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • The highly anticipated biography of Sylvia Plath that focuses on her remarkable literary and intellectual achievements, while restoring the woman behind the long-held myths about her life and art.

“One of the most beautiful biographies I've ever read." —Glennon Doyle, author of #1 New York Times Bestseller, Untamed


With a wealth of never-before-accessed materials, Heather Clark brings to life the brilliant Sylvia Plath, who had precocious poetic ambition and was an accomplished published writer even before she became a star at Smith College. Refusing to read Plath’s work as if her every act was a harbinger of her tragic fate, Clark considers the sociopolitical context as she thoroughly explores Plath’s world: her early relationships and determination not to become a conventional woman and wife; her troubles with an unenlightened mental health industry; her Cambridge years and thunderclap meeting with Ted Hughes; and much more.

Clark’s clear-eyed portraits of Hughes, his lover Assia Wevill, and other demonized players in the arena of Plath’s suicide promote a deeper understanding of her final days. Along with illuminating readings of the poems themselves, Clark’s meticulous, compassionate research brings us closer than ever to the spirited woman and visionary artist who blazed a trail that still lights the way for women poets the world over.

About the Author


HEATHER CLARK earned her bachelor's degree in English literature from Harvard University and her doctorate in English from Oxford University. Her awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Fellowship, a Leon Levy Biography Fellowship at the City University of New York, and a Visiting US Fellowship at the Eccles Centre for American Studies, British Library. A former visiting scholar at the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing, she is the author of The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes and The Ulster Renaissance: Poetry in Belfast 1962-1972. Her work has appeared in publications including Harvard Review, Times Literary Supplement, Time, AirMail, and LitHub, and she recently served as the scholarly consultant for the BBC documentary Sylvia Plath: Life Inside the Bell Jar. She divides her time between Chappaqua, New York, and Yorkshire, England, where she is a professor of contemporary poetry at the University of Huddersfield.

Praise For…


A New York Times Top 10 Book of the Year Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National  Book Critics Circle Award, and the LA Times Book Prize • A New York Times Notable Book Named a Book of the Year: O, the Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Boston Globe, Literary Hub, The Times (London), The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, and The Times of India Winner of the Biographers' Club Slightly Foxed Prize for Best First Biography

“Mesmerizing . . . Comprehensive . . . Stuffed with heretofore untold anecdotes that illuminate or extend our understanding of Plath’s life . . . Clark is a felicitous writer and a discerning critic of Plath’s poetry . . . There is no denying the book’s intellectual power and, just as important, its sheer readability.”
The New York Times

“A majestic tome with the narrative propulsion of a thriller. We now have the complete story.” 
O, The Oprah Magazine

“An exhaustively researched, frequently brilliant masterwork. . . . It is an impressive achievement representing a prizeworthy contribution to literary scholarship and biographical journalism.”
The Washington Post

“One of the most beautiful biographies I've ever read."
—Glennon Doyle, author of #1 New York Times Bestseller, Untamed

“Clark masterfully analyzes the poetry with intelligent incorporation of the biography. . . . Red Comet shows that the achievement of Sylvia Plath was miraculous—but it wasn’t spasmodic, or rare. It was hard-won, every single day.”
Los Angeles Times
 
“Massive, insightful . . . Red Comet is a critical examination of what it means to be a female artist, to suffer from depression, and to be alone, as it is revelatory about this one particular life and the art that came from it. The red comet (an image from her poem ‘Stings’) is an apt metaphor for Plath.”
Boston Globe
 
“Revelatory. . . . Plath’s struggles with depression and her marriage to Ted Hughes emerge in complex detail, but Clark does not let Plath’s suicide define her artistic achievement, arguing with refreshing rigor for her significance to modern letters. The result is a new understanding and appreciation of an innovative, uncompromising poetic voice.”
The New Yorker
 
“A definitive biography. . . . What ultimately bursts off the page is Plath’s short, vibrant life, which is too often most remembered for the way it ended: ‘That’s the irony, isn’t it?’ says Clark. ‘She’s so incredibly alive.’”
Entertainment Weekly
 
Red Comet is absolutely necessary. . . . In Clark’s attentive hands, Plath’s life is laid out in its full complexity.”
Lit Hub

“Aiming to shake the public perception of Sylvia Plath as ‘the Marilyn Monroe of the literati,’ Clark delivers a meticulous, unflinching and fresh view of the brilliant, troubled poet.” 
People
 
“Surely the final, the definitive, biography of Sylvia Plath . . . Takes its time in desensationalizing the life and the art; this lets Clark place both firmly in the literary and politically engaged contexts that formed them and simultaneously demonstrate how Plath’s work, in return, gifted the writing life unimaginable new sinew.”
The Guardian (“The Best Books of 2020”)

Red Comet is a mighty achievement. Clark is compassionate, clear-eyed, sceptical. Each chapter reads with the ease of a novel. . . . Plath’s resilience, genius and insight blaze through the book.”
The Times (UK)
 
“Clark entices us with the impossible: an ‘unbiased,’ authorised biography of Sylvia Plath. . . . Red Comet is the kind of serious literary biography Plath has long deserved but, until now, not received.”
New Statesman (UK)
 
“Unlike other biographies of Plath (1932-63), Clark’s traces her subject’s literary and intellectual development rather than concentrating on her undoing through suicide. . . . A masterful biography, that will especially interest literary scholars.”
Library Journal
 
“[A] page-turning, meticulously researched biography of Sylvia Plath. . . . Clark’s in-depth scholarship and fine writing result in a superb work that will deliver fresh revelations to Plath’s many devoted fans.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“A sober and detailed critical biography of one of the 20th century’s greatest and most misunderstood poets. . . . Redeems Plath from the condescension of easy interpretation.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Once I started reading this book, I couldn’t stop; I read it upon waking and late at night, at the dinner table and during the workday. I thought I knew Plath, but this wonderful book shows me I did not. Like the lyric speakers of her late poetry, she emerges from these pages transformed. Red Comet presents Sylvia Plath as she ought to be: as an innovative, ambitious, driven artist, at a time when women weren’t supposed to be any of these things. In the end, I was awestruck by Plath’s courage and strength in the face of so many obstacles; I was awed, too, by the work Clark has done to bring this writer to life.”
—Maggie Doherty, author of The Equivalents
Product Details
ISBN: 9780307951267
ISBN-10: 030795126X
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: September 28th, 2021
Pages: 1184
Language: English

How to read more

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How To Read More

If you love reading, but for some reason you read less and less, know that everything is fine. It happens.
Our lives today have so many things that distract us - how can we not put books away when all these movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, social networks and endless surfing in online stores are around ...
Yes, it's really hard to resist, but you certainly can!

In this article, we want to share with you some tips to read more often and more successfully.
These are some notes and some practices that we have collected for our SUNDOG BOOKS readers club.
And maybe it will bring more books into your life!

Why do we want/need to read more?

To start reading more, you have to understand why you need it.
And you will be surprised, but your goals can be quite varied:

- for work
If you read a lot on duty, then you definitely need to speed up the process. The logic here is simple: read faster → work faster → more time for books for yourself.

- for education
you need this for your educational career or sometimes you just want to read to learn. And, with all the new alternative ways to gain knowledge (podcasts, online courses and videos), the book still does an excellent job of this task too.

- for self-development
all exercises for increasing speed, one way or another, improve cognition and memory.

- for fun
because good books always = fun!

Book lovers have an additional special goal for reading more often. If you love literature, you will understand what we mean: you want to catch everything - to follow modern literature, and not forget about the classics, look into non-fiction and children's publications. And there’s so much you want to reread! The goals are ambitious, but attainable if you read a lot.

 

And so - How to read more:
We will tell you about the methods that we use ourselves. Perhaps some will suit you as well.

 

15 minutes a day

You've probably already heard this rule: if you want to start a healthy habit, devote 15 minutes a day to it. Once upon a time, we all read irregularly, in jumps and starts. Sometimes we cannot open a book we have begun weeks ago. Therefore, you should decide to create a rule: devote at least 15 minutes a day to reading. Try reading before bed, or maybe during lunchtime, or even when you are having your morning coffee.

You will see progress immediately. You will notice that almost always your 15 minutes will grow into half an hour or more. But the most remarkable thing is that in three weeks your hands themselves will be looking for a book.

 

50 First Pages
This method advises - If the book hasn't hooked you from the first 50 pages, put it aside! Life is too short to read uninteresting books.

It is necessary to change the approach to books. At first it will be hard for you to stop and put the book down. Even if we put the book away, it will seem to reproach us from the shelf, mocking us as quitters. But in the end we should come to one simple thought: if it doesn’t hook your attention, you should not force yourself to read it.

***Fifty pages is not a bad test. Not the most objective, but definitely effective. It helps to determine whether it interests you or not, and whether to spend time on things that do not excite.

 

Reader's Diary

This should be used to improve the quality of reading - to make it more conscious. For starters, it can be a simple notebook with headings:

  • Author
  • Year of publication
  • Main characters
  • Scene
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Quotes

And, yes, a reader's diary is not a thing about quantity, but about quality. But, it can also motivate. When you open your diary and start looking at quotes (especially quotes), you immediately really want to read.

 

Maybe a Book Bet?
Several people can participate. Members of the betting group can come from friends, family, and also your colleagues. And of course you can set your own rules for participation, but we'll give you a simple example:

Everyone in the group should read and review a book over the course of a month with weekly updates. Anyone who does not finish a review buys the book for all other participants for the next month.

 

Speed Reading

Another effective way to increase the amount you read is speed reading. The logic here is simple - the faster you read, the more books you can enjoy.

*There are many online courses on speed reading, and you can also study on your own using instructional books. But, it is worth noting that this is a serious learning process that will require some effort on your part.

 

Outcome

Reading every day is quite attainable, the main thing is to try to make it a habit.
Sometimes, instead of heading for Facebook, try opening a book and soon you won’t even remember why you needed to wander around social media.
And also - don't forget about audiobooks. They are a cool way to take the load off your eyes sometimes and just immerse yourself in the story. Some books are really strong in voice acting.

 
 
 

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