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Chapters in a Mythology: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 25. Januar 2007

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Judith Kroll's "Chapters in a Mythology" - groundbreaking when it was published in 1976, and now a classic - is essential reading for anyone interested in Sylvia Plath. It was the first full-scale study of Plath's poetry and proved immensely influential for the flood of Plath scholarship that followed. Kroll persuasively disputed the image of Plath as a death-obsessed poet whose poems were little more than vivid symptoms, a biographical record of anguish foreshadowing her suicide in 1963. Chapters challenged its readers to confront a writer whose verse is full of tremendous complexity and nuance. Kroll shows that Plath's poems form a mythic biography, presided over by a 'Moon-Muse', in which depictions of death are nearly always matched with visions of rebirth and transformation.In a substantial new Foreword, Kroll - who entered Smith College just six years after Plath graduated - describes how, a year before Plath's suicide, she was introduced to Plath's first book of poetry by one of Plath's own teachers; six years later, after the publication of Ariel, Plath became the subject of Kroll's PhD dissertation.

Kroll's Foreword also puts to rest definitively the mistaken notion that she was somehow aided in her analysis by Plath's husband, the poet Ted Hughes. Kroll's account of her meetings with Hughes, which took place after she had written her dissertation, make for intriguing reading - including Hughes' surprise that Kroll had independently identified the sources that had influenced Plath's writing most deeply. "Chapters in a Mythology" is an original work of fresh scholarship and impressive insight. It remains a compelling examination of one of the 20th century's great poets.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Judith Kroll is a graduate of Smith College and holds a PHD from Yale University. She is widely regarded as an expert on the work of Sylvia Plath. She lives both in Austin, Texas, USA, where she teaches at the University, and in India, where her husband was born.


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Amazon.com: 4.2 von 5 Sternen 6 Rezensionen
7 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The shaman Sylvia Plath 25. Juli 2005
Von Robert S. Robbins - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
"Chapters In A Mythology" reveals that Sylvia Plath was more interested in the psyche than her biographers suggest. Sylvia's interest in psychology led her to read the work of Carl Jung and her husband Ted Hughes introduced her to the book "The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar Of Poetic Myth" by Robert Graves which is a study of the mythological and psychological sources of poetry in paganism.

Ted Hughes suggests that Sylvia possessed the visionary faculty of a shaman, "In her poetry...she had free and controlled access to depths formerly reserved to the primitive ecstatic priests, shamans, and Holy men.." Judith Kroll explains Sylvia's fascination for the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico in the following terms, "For Sylvia Plath, the typical 'metaphysical' landscape provided a visual setting for the fixed, super-real, ominous, inaccessible drama of the psyche." She further praises Sylvia's "openness to contact with the unconscious are developed to an extraordinary degree." Kroll sees Sylvia's references to witches and Greek mythology as examples of paganism. For example, she argues that Sylvia viewed her nervous breakdown as a shaman's dismemberment and rebirth through ritual death of the psyche and recovery, "The dispersed 'stones' of the speaker's shattered self are gathered together and reconstructed, reenacting the myths of Dionysus (who is alluded to in 'Maenad'), Osiris, and other gods who undergo dismemberment and resurrection."

Kroll reveals that Sylvia Plath had read William James' book "Varieties of Religious Experience", "The Ten Principal Upanishads" by William Butler Yeats, "The Tibetan Book Of The Dead", and possibly some books on Zen Buddhism. Sylvia was interested in states of consciousness in which the mundane self is felt to die and a higher and larger self recovered. Therefore she was not morbidly interested in physical death but rather in ego death which permits a rebirth as a mystic in life. Although there is considerable evidence that Sylvia experienced brief moments of ecstasy such as may occur during the manic phase of a manic depressive illness, it seems unlikely that she reached the spiritual attainment of enlightenment or mystical union with the universe or God because such mystical experiences would have given her a reason to live.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen helpful 24. Oktober 2003
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
this book was extremely helpful to me while in school. The book didn't strike me in the same way it did the last person, but, then, I didn't read it cover to cover. One thing I do remember about Kroll's book was that she expressed the belief that it was a mistake or an injustice to simply read Plath's poetry as a suicide note or as something tangible left in evidence at a crime scene, like a blood stain or a chalk outline. I agree--while Plath was a confessional poet, she was different from Sexton and Lowell and the like in that she created a mythological world in which she cast her speaker as the lead. There are symbolic cycles, colors, characters, elements of re-birth, etc that would not be present if that were the case. So while some people read Plath's poetry as tangible proof of mental illness or the need for feminism or whatever, Kroll reinforced the idea that there was another level to her poetry--a mythological one. That was what I gathered from my use of the book. I felt that Anne Stevenson's Bitter Fame had the Olwyn Hughes-informed subjectivity though. But then, that was biography, not a study on her poetry...
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Key Study of Plath 15. Oktober 2013
Von Edward Brynes - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
This book interprets Sylvia Plath's poetry in terms of two influences: the painter Giorgio di Chirico and Robert Graves' The White Goddess. The author makes the validity of her interpretation very clear. "The Disquieting Muses" is both a painting by di Chirico and also a 1957 poem by Plath. Graves' system as presented in his book The White Goddess was introduced to her by Ted Hughes when he met her at Cambridge in 1956. Kroll's achievement is to show these influences in the poetry in detail.

As an influence, The White Goddess seems more important. This "Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth" was published by Graves in 1946. It is a lengthy exposition of the mythological system of a pre-classical matriarchal society in which the moon is the central symbol, with three phases of waxing, full, and waning, and corresponding to them, three colors, white, red, and black; and three stages of life, birth; love and war; and death and rebirth. The moon (a female) has a male consort who dies and whom she mourns, and a son who is also her lover. This is by no means the whole story. Graves' book explains the system in detail, and I was curious enough to read some of it. He rejects most English poetry as "classical", i.e., belonging to the post-matriarchal cultural system, and therefore second-rate; most of his attention is focused on Welsh poetry, and on a special alphabet, at which point I put his book aside. For him, poetry must create in the reader an unearthly thrill which classical poetry cannot achieve.

The importance of this book for understanding Plath's work is undeniable. But it is disquieting to find Kroll suggesting at the end that Plath's suicide was an attempted rebirth. Some involvement with Plath's personal circumstances would be hard for Kroll to leave out, since Plath saw herself as a captive of the myth, but of course nothing can be proved.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A indispensable Plath Classic 3. Februar 2014
Von A Customer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
This book is a surprisingly lucid and coherent interpretation of Sylvia Plath's poetry, especially considering that it came out in 1976. It far surpasses most of the Plath criticism and biography that has come out since then in providing an understanding of what Plath was trying to do in her poems. Ted Hughes's contribution to it was clearly important, but Kroll's work stands on its own. The book's clarity is even more surprising in that it was a doctoral dissertation.
Concentrating on the late poetry as it does, it fails to encompass Plath's entire life. It largely portrays her as passive and mystical, as she was toward the end when events and her own psychological ambiguities had overwhelmed her. But before that, Plath wanted to use her art to criticize and change civilization, and it actually did so, despite her early death. Kroll might have given her more credit for that. Plath was not, after all, a Buddhist nun.
Still, this is an indispensable classic for understanding one of the twentieth century's greatest poets.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen critique on images in Plath's poetry... 28. März 2000
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
One of the theories of Plath's work presented in Knoll's book "Chapters in a Mythology" is that Plath's poems reflect the struggle between Plath's warring "true" and "false" selves. In the same way, Knoll seems to be trying to serve to masters when writing her book. She writes of working closely and very well with the Hughes estate, something which is almost unheard of, considering most critics and biographer's of Plath only come head-to-head against the estate's manipulation and tight grasp on the rights to Plath's works. One arguement is that too much of her work is being transformed into a feminist liberation cause that Plath herself never took up.
For Knoll, the temptation to put in some feminist criticism was too great, as it sneaks in here and there, as she deconstructs such poems as "Rabbit Catcher" and "Moon and the Yew Tree" in the way in which the Hughes estate sees fit, sneaking in feminist thinking between the lines. What comes through ends up being a muddied critique with conflicting ideas trying to support themselves with the same evidence at hand. Knoll, like Plath, was trying to server to masters in the authorship of this book. However, unlike her subject, Knoll was unable to sucessfully convey the meaning sufficantly for either side.
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