The Bell Jar- Don’t you read it!


Before I talk about the book, I hope you all know Sylvia Plath. She is rather known for her poetry, which was and is loved worldwide for its depth and brilliance. This- The Bell Jar– in fact, is her only published novel.

t1

I loved the novel and gave it a rating of

4 out of 5

on Goodreads; yet, I’d advise you to not to read it. Now, if I loved a piece of literature then why would I suggest you to not to go ahead with it? Because the story is too dark and real to stay inside a book termed as a fiction (or better- a partial autobiography). Nothing about it seems unreal. It all is as real as me writing this and as real as you reading this.

The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence.

Reading this book was the closest that I ever had been to depression. Not that I never heard about depression before. In fact, in recent years, such cases are coming to the surface like never before. But, at the most, all we are told are the name and the speculated reasons that might have pushed the person to go ahead with the drastic step. This book doesn’t tell you that Esther is depressed; instead it shows what it’s like to be alone even when surrounded by many; what it’s like to constantly fight against one’s own thoughts, memories; what it’s like to not feel alright within when everything around seems fine; what it’s like to thinking, constantly, about ways of killing oneself.

Reading this book made me reluctant to spend time alone, thinking or contemplating anything and everything. Reading this book made me live, momentarily though, the dark and torturous world that depression or a breakdown brings with it. The darkness was real; the fear was real. You might feel (if you’ve read the book) that I’m exaggerating my experience but I’m not. If anything, all this might be an understatement.

Piece by piece, I fed my wardrobe to the night wind, and flutteringly, like a loved one’s ashes, the gray scraps were ferried off, to settle here, there, exactly where I would never know, in the dark heart of New York.

We all (including me) have been Esther (the protagonist of the book) at some point or the other in our lives; some a little less, some a little more, but we all have been there. And, perhaps, that was one of the reasons I didn’t see the darkness in the book, I felt it, I lived it while reading. I remember the night I finished reading this book, for no reason, tears found their way out. I couldn’t let go off what I had read. It was as if it held me back with it in its darkness.

But now, while you’re reading it, I’m perfectly fine. The phase I underwent passed like the others.

The Bell Jar starts off in New York and ends in Massachusetts. It starts with Esther, an aspiring and talented writer (poet), completing her internship as a student “guest editor” in Mademoiselle Magazine and ends with her being in an asylum. You won’t be told that Esther had been undergoing through some of the darkest phases of her life, you’d be shown all of it and that would be too intense. How depression doesn’t knock at door once, but walks along with you as your shadow until you become your own shadow.

This was a good dark read for me. This was a book of confessions of somebody who is stuck underneath a heap of darkness.

It was as if what I wanted to kill wasn’t in that skin or the thin blue pulse that jumped under my thumb, but somewhere else, deeper, more secret, a whole lot harder to get at.

How does the book end?- that I won’t reveal. If it’s a happy ending or a sad one, you may decide for yourself.

As for her writing style- it, apparently, has a tinge of poetic touch; I won’t say that is the best I’ve ever read, but it has few of the most beautiful and honest lines that I have and will ever come across. Story keeps on hopping from Esther’s present life to her memories, which have played crucial roles in moulding her, to make her the way she is.

Reasons of how there couldn’t have been a better choice of title than ‘The Bell Jar’ for this partial autobiography will also keep on unfolding themselves with the passage of pages.

All this said, do I really want you not to read it? No. Go ahead and read it. You will become aware of a whole new different world, or you will end up realizing that you’re not alone in that world, you never have been. It might not be as effective for you as it was for me but this I can assure you that impactful this read, definitely, will be.

People were made of nothing so much as dust, and I couldn’t see that doctoring all that dust was a bit better than writing poems people would remember and repeat to themselves when they were unhappy or sick or couldn’t sleep.

This is one of the strongest and most impactful books that I’ve read till now.

Have you read ‘The Bell Jar’? What do you think about it – the book and the author? What do you feel about the way the term ‘depression’ or ‘breakdown’ is talked about?

IF YOU ARE A FIRST-TIME VISITOR OF MY BLOG, DO REFER ‘First-Timers’. IT WOULD HELP YOU IN EXPLORING THE PLACE.

No credit for the Image used
Copyright © 2017 by Idle Muser. All rights reserved.

28 Comments Add yours

  1. I read this recently and I would agree that it is not an easy read. The second half almost ambushes you after the relative lightness of the beginning. The fact that there is no single reason or event for the change in mood makes it all the the more unsettling…and all the more realistic. This was published not long before the author’s death and gives a haunting glimpse of what her life must have felt like. I think that this is a great book for discussing mental health even though it goes to some very dark places.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Idle Muser says:

      You’ve put it down so aptly.
      The very reason of the book being so unsettling and realistic, which I couldn’t realize while writing this review, was the absence of the apparent reasons or events that pushed the character over the edge. I knew I found the book insanely real but couldn’t convince myself of the reasons of why so; here is the reason, the very reason. Thanks for sharing.

      Yes, it definitely is a book to be discussed and talked about. It shows the reality, which is why it is dark.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ESP xtruck says:

    Unusual review, you liked it but wont recommend 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Idle Muser says:

      Thank you!☺️
      I hope I could impart of why I felt this way in my write-up. By the way, have you read it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ESP xtruck says:

        I tried reading the book, twice actually 🙂 and yes I did read your review and loved it (hence the comment), it tells me why my attempts were futile.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Idle Muser says:

          Oh! So what I could gather from your comment is that you tried reading it but couldn’t finish, is it?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. ESP xtruck says:

            hehe yeah..in short

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Idle Muser says:

              As now you know how it will go, you might try reading it again.🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  3. lynnefisher says:

    Hi there, Aditi, just to let you know I appreciated your review that got me to want to read this. Then I practised my reviewing skills here on goodreads, if you’re interested https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2190738921?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1. I surprised myself at really thinking hard about it as I was writing it and of course then it took more time than I envisaged. But a good learning curve which i enjoyed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Idle Muser says:

      Wonderful, Lynne! I will definitely go through your review.
      As for writing reviews, even I realized how beneficial can writing a review be for oneself only after I started doing them myself. I am still learning how to write a good one though. With time, will improve.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. lynnefisher says:

        You’re already pretty good Aditi! It was through you I began to try harder with this, and seeing the benefits.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Idle Muser says:

          🙂
          I read your review, Lynne, and what a splendid one; I loved it as it helped me to look at the book through a different dimension and also, made me aware of the questions that should have come to my mind when I read “The Bell Jar” but didn’t.

          Like

  4. Anu sharma says:

    Surely I’m going to read this..such strong recommendation means that there’s something in it for sure

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Idle Muser says:

      There is, Anu! This read will introduce you to a whole new world.
      Do tell me of your experience when you read it.🙂
      And sorry for delay in response.

      Like

  5. prashantt says:

    Hi! Aditi..i read her poetries but never came across this book, the name of the book has alarmed me to read it.
    Have a great week ahead! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Idle Muser says:

      Hi Prashantt!
      I apologize for delay in my response. And yes, do read it. This book is a must-read.☺️
      And Happy Diwali!🙂

      Like

      1. prashantt says:

        Hey Aditi!
        I will add this to reading cart and a very Happy Diwali to you too! 🎆😇

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Cecilia says:

    What a great review! I love poems.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Idle Muser says:

      Although I am not an ardent reader of poems but whenever I come across a beautiful poetic piece, I remind myself to start reading those crisp, elegant compositions too. Who is your favorite poet?
      I am glad you liked the review. Thank you!🙂

      Like

  7. Enigma says:

    I have read Sylvia Plath’s poems. Gonna try this one after such a detailed review.
    Thanks for sharing it with us! 😃
    Enigma

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Idle Muser says:

      Wonderful! Do let me know about your experience once you read it.
      I haven’t read many of hers (hardly read poems) but whatever I have read, it makes my entire world stop for a moment; that is how strong some of her pieces are.
      Who is your favorite poet?
      And thanks to you for reading it.🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Enigma says:

        I will definitely share my experience with you.
        I hope you still try to follow my blog cause I generally write poems! 😉
        I don’t like typical nature poetry so as a fav poet I go for Nikita Gill.
        What about yours?
        Enigma

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Idle Muser says:

          Oh yes! I know.😃
          Well as I am not into poetry, so my knowledge of poets and poems is minimal. But yes, I have heard of Nikita Gill and started following her recently. I, too, like her poems; have read a few.
          But as I have planned on to read poetry, pretty soon I will be able to tell you my favorties as well.☺️
          And sorry for such delay in response.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Asha Seth says:

    Quite a beautiful book this is. I need to read it some time again. The book plays with your mind. But never has anything touched so deep as The Bell Jar except, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Quite a review too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Idle Muser says:

      I know. Right, Asha?
      For me, The Bell Jar turned out to be an impactful beauty. Such a strong narration. Goosebumps!
      Even though I called this book a dark read, I am sure I am going to pick it up again, some time in the future.
      I am yet to read Anna Karenina; it’s still waiting for me in my drawer. Will read it before 2018 starts.
      And thank you!☺️

      Like

  9. nice and detailed review……..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Idle Muser says:

      Thank you, Sudhir!☺️
      Have you ever read her?

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s