Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"She was a monster actually."

There's some Plath buzz going on this month. No real reason why--it's not like the 50th anniversary of her suicide is rapidly approaching or anything. . .

Anyway, the Guardian interviewed Olwyn Hughes, Plath's literary executor and she apparently couldn't help defending her brother, Ted:

She was horribly unjust both to her mother and to Ted. And I'm sick of reading that he left her for Assia – that's all you get whenever his name is mentioned. Assia. But Ted didn't walk out.

It was actually a friend of Assia's who told Sylvia. She rang her up and thought maybe she was helping her, or wanted to warn her, or something, I don't know. But this person had no idea how on edge Sylvia was. That she wouldn't be able to cope with this information. And so when Ted next went down [to their house in Devon] she was in a rage and threw him out.

I wish the newspapers would get it right. He didn't even know that Sylvia would find out about Assia. He'd done everything he could to be very discreet. It was just one of those things … And of course Sylvia, when she did hear about it, it reminded her of all her terrors about abandonment and everything else. She wouldn't listen to anything but separation and divorce. But he didn't leave her for Assia. That's just not true. He was actually staying on friends' floors in London until he got a little place by himself. He certainly wasn't living with Assia.

Oh and she took all the money out of their bank account. She was a monster actually.

Hm. A wife and mother finds out her husband is sleeping around, she kicks him out, and takes all their money out of the bank account. Sounds like a set of best practices to me. But maybe I'm not British enough. Stiff upper lip, what.

I will take this opportunity to remind you that if you've not read the excellent Ariel: The Restored Edition, you've not read Plath properly (unless by chance your only introduction has been Crossing the Water). I'm sure this can also be done online, but I don't have the resources at hand to link to. At any rate, Plath is our best employer of phonemes in poetry, so I suggest you forget about the mythology and read the verse. Of course, that's what I recommend for reading anyone.

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