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.
I loved the novel and gave it a rating of
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.
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