A New York Times Top 10 Book of 2021
Published:3rd Feb '22
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The first biography of this great and tragic poet that takes advantage of a wealth of new material, this is an unusually balanced, comprehensive and definitive life of Sylvia Plath.
'Surely the final, the definitive, biography of Sylvia Plath' Ali Smith
*WINNER OF THE SLIGHTLY FOXED PRIZE 2021*
*A BOOK OF THE YEAR IN THE DAILY TELEGRAPH AND THE TIMES*
*FINALIST FOR THE PULITZER PRIZE IN BIOGRAPHY 2021*
Drawing on a wealth of new material, Heather Clark brings to life the great and tragic poet, Sylvia Plath. Refusing to read Plath's work as if her every act was a harbinger of her fate, Clark evokes a culture in transition in the mid-twentieth century as she thoroughly explores Sylvia's world. We see Plath's early relationships and determination not to become a conventional woman and wife; we witness her Cambridge years and thunderclap meeting with Ted Hughes; and, through clear-eyed portraits of the demonised players in the arena of her suicide, we gain a deeper understanding of her final days.
Featuring illuminating readings of Plath's poems, Red Comet brings us closer than ever to the spirited woman and visionary artist who blazed a trail that still lights the way for women the world over.
'A first-class biography . . . Each chapter reads with the ease of a novel . . . I couldn't put it down' The Times
A first-class biography... Red Comet is a mighty achievement. Clark is compassionate, clear-eyed, sceptical. Each chapter reads with the ease of a novel... I couldn't put it down. -- Laura Freeman * The Times *
Rescuing Sylvia Plath from the cult of her fans...[Red Comet,] a terrific, even-handed biography of Plath frees the poet from the narrow view of her as 'a mind on course for suicide'... Heather Clark's meticulous research, sweeping up every scrap, deftly integrates drafts, unpublished pieces, stories and critiques of poems...to make this extraordinary story more moving than ever. -- Lyndall Gordon * Daily Telegraph *
At last, there is Red Comet, a major biography that recognises Sylvia Plath...and recovers her from cliché. It is a superbly researched, fluent and assured book...and Heather Clark writes with a rare empathy and understanding of her subject... Not one sentence seems extraneous... Red Comet reveals Plath as she ought to be seen. -- Ann Kennedy Smith * Times Literary Supplement *
Clark's defining project, both a joyful affirmation for Plath fanatics and a legitimization of her legacy... Clark masterfully analyses the poetry with intelligent incorporation of the biography... In this mammoth biography of a short, troubled life, the deepest impression is of [Plath's] resilience and dogged energy. -- Jessica Ferri * Los Angeles Times *
Finally, the biography that Sylvia Plath deserves, one that takes her seriously as both a poet and a person. Combining rigorous research with in-depth literary analysis and immersive style, Heather Clark's magisterial book not only traces Plath's influences and inspirations, but also chronicles her often-tumultuous relationships with respect and empathy. A spectacular achievement. -- Ruth Franklin, author of Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life
Dimensions: 232mm x 154mm x 52mm