I cannot bring myself to really read any of these journo-crit pieces about The Bell Jar and its 40th anniversary. There's one here, there's one on HTML Giant, there's probably more. I'm doing that squinty thing where I'm reading every other line of this piece. Okay. I've made myself go back and read it. Kind of. I will say that there's so much here that I write about in Heroines, so much of the way Plath's novel and her life and her career are characterized in these pieces and the comments for these pieces. Like, the "legitimacy" of Plath's mental illness somehow determining our reading of the text, and reviews of the work that latch onto it for autobiographical tidbits, this is what happens when we read women, like the personal way critics read Kate Chopin's The Awakening versus how they read Flaubert's Madame Bovary. I can't *really* get into it now because I am editing the work now to send it off to Chris and my god editing is painful and bloody enough as is. When I edit or am edited I feel like I want to fucking die.
Little question though (just mini as opposed to maxi-rant) I don't know who wrote the subhead for the PoFo piece but: Why, exactly, do we need the modifier of "YA" to Plath's novel? I know it's for the soft-quip to go with middle-age - ha- yes- I get it. I am announcing, however, I will from now on only refer to This Side of Paradise as Fitzgerald's "YA" novel and Infinite Jest as David Foster Wallace's "YA" novel. Because it's about young adults, right? That's why you're characterizing it as YA? Funny how the branding of "YA" or "chicklit" (hence not literary, right?) doesn't happen as much to male coming-of-age narratives. Carson McCullers, Plath's The Bell Jar, Shirley Jackson, all lumped into young adult. As if the female coming-of-age experience is somehow more frivolous or less rending, less existential, than the male one, that it's not all the stuff of literature. Just literature. It's just fucking literature people. I can dig some YA books, and I do, just like I dig some books dubbed chick lit, but these are marketing terms. When we talk about literature we don't need to use the language capitalism and divisions at publishing companies have given us. We can use our own.
And why did the Poetry Foundation have someone write a piece on The Bell Jar who obviously didn't like The Bell Jar, and dismissively refers to the online adoration for Sylvia Plath, as opposed to engaging with the idea that this novel has spoken for and spoken to so many of us, yes as young girls (or boys), but also now, as discerning, passionate, literate adults? God, the disdain our culture directs towards novels that young girls read. It's already a novel that hasn't been legitimized, despite what the author of the piece states about the overvaluation of the novel, so why not actually assign a piece where you're reevaluating the work, yes, the work, not only reading the work for the author's posthumous cult status or combing through it for biography?
Gosh, and the author of the PoFo piece had just accepted my friend request on Facebook. Oh, well.