EYE RHYMES

SYLVIA PLATH'S ART OF THE VISUAL

Connors, Kathleen, Bayley, Sally (Eds.)

Oxford University Press

2007

269 Pages

Format: Hardcover

ISBN: 9780199233878

Language: English

Category: Studios / artists writings

Eye Rhymes brings to light a side of Sylvia Plath that is scarcely known: her serious involvement in the visual arts from a very early age. She moved between art-making and writing constantly, integrating their elements with ease and pleasure. As a child she considered a poem she had written or transcribed to be complete only when illustrated by a picture. As a young teen she recorded 'technicolor' dreams that told complete stories. Her diaries, letters, and school notebooks are full of doodles and self-portraits - all revealing important truths about her. Until her junior year at Smith College, she considered her two favorite disciplines as offering equally promising choices. It was only at the age of 20 that she decided to leave fine art behind her as her chosen career, and opt for the written word. Eye Rhymes presents a magnificent range of Plath's art, most of it seen in print for the first time: childhood sketches, illustrated diaries, portraits, rich modernist and expressionist paintings, fashion images, photographs, and more. The book offers a myriad of new insights into Plath's creative energy, revealing unexpected themes and ideas that first saw light in visual form, to be re-born later in her greatest poetry. Drawing on the large collections of Indiana University's Lilly Library and Smith College's Mortimer Rare Book Room, it presents an in-depth examination of Sylvia Plath's visual art and literary studies, and their uses in her writing career. Kathleen Connors's illuminating account of Plath as artist and writer opens a rich seam of ideas developed further by distinguished Plath scholars Sally Bayley, Christina Britzolakis, Susan Gubar, Langdon Hammer, Fan Jinghua, and Diane Middlebrook. The writers contextualize approximately sixty of Plath's works within her writing oeuvre, starting with juvenilia that reveal the extensive play between her two disciplines. The book gives special attention to Plath's unpublished teen diaries and book reports, which contain drawings and early textual experiments, created years before her famous 'I am I' diary notes of age seventeen, when critical examination of her writing usually begins. The contributors offer new critical approaches to the artist's multidimensional oeuvre, including writing that appropriates sophisticated visual and colour effects years after painting and drawing became her hobby and writing her chosen profession. Essayists demonstrate Plath's visual art interests as they relate to her early identity as a writer in Cambridge, her teen artwork and writing on war, her mid-career 'art poems' on the works of Giorgio de Chirico, her representations of womanhood within mid-century commercial culture, and her visual aesthetics in poetry. Eye Rhymes offers exciting new material on the life and work of Sylvia Plath, designed for the general public as well as Plath specialists, on the 75th anniversary of her birth in 1932.

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