Thursday, October 07, 2004

a review of janet malcolm's The Silent Woman

I’m not sure what Janet Malcolm was after when she wrote the silent woman. The back-ad copy says that this is a “feat of literary detection” and that in The Silent Woman, Janet Malcolm examines the biographies of Sylvia Plath to create a book about Plath’s afterlife. Malcolm succeeds in giving us a very, very thorough retelling of the various biographies, with a special focus on Anne Stevenson whom she portrays as a rather weak writer and victimized by Plath executor Olwyn Hughes (Ted Hughes, Plath’s husband’s sister). Olwyn, as anyone who knows about Plath knows, never was one to mince words and she is fierce in her protection of the image of Plath that she will allow the public to see. As long as Olwyn is alive, there will be biographies that are authorized that read like Anne Stevenson’s Bitter Fame – which is to say, expected, >>>More.