Mythologizing Plath

The ‘myth’ of Sylvia Plath is one that has been written and rewritten in the almost fifty years after her death. She has been subject to exhaustive, unstinting examination and glamorization; there are over one hundred books in print dedicated to Plath, and her Internet following is that of cult status. The fascination and mythologizing of Plath is similar to that of James Dean or Marilyn Monroe; like them, her life ended early and in disaster, so she remains a legend, forever young. She seems to be a myth as much as she was a talented artist—her soap-opera life conflates glamour with destruction, a story that would overshadow any body of work. But her tabloid-worthy life and tragic end can not and should not define her: a deeper look into her work and those who read and study it show a constantly morphing poet who defies categorization.

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