01 November 2006

"Anything but bored"

Blackbird, the literary journal of Virginia Commonwealth University, has published the newly-discovered Sylvia Plath poem online:
Anna Journey, Contributing Editor of Blackbird, discovered that this poem was unpublished, and brought it to the attention of our editorial staff, along with a number of additional reasons why it is a poem of interest. Her essay, “Dragon Goes to Bed with Princess: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Influence on Sylvia Plath” (forthcoming in Notes on Contemporary Literature), explores in detail how “Ennui” germinated from Plath’s creative response to The Great Gatsby, as evidenced by her handwritten notes in her personal copy of that novel, as well as an essay she wrote on Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night. Fitzgerald’s lingering influence continued to produce echoes in Plath’s work, even in such a later poem as “Daddy,” whose last line may recall Dick Diver’s farewell to his dead father in Tender Is the Night. Plath’s broad range of allusions in “Ennui” also includes Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, “The Lady or the Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton, and “The Beast in the Jungle” by Henry James, as well as providing an indirect response to that “delicate monster,” Ennui, as it was famously described in “Au Lecteur” (“To the Reader”) by Charles Baudelaire, a poem whose sardonic tone matches Plath’s own.
I find the combination of allusions to Stockton, James, and Cervantes especially intriguing. The juxtapositions open up many other possibilities...

(via Maud)

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