Special Topic: The Rebirth of the Author

Sylvia Plath Through the Looking-Glass: Too Beautiful to be Dead

  • Nicolas Pierre Boileau (Aix-Marseille Université)


 Mostly ignored during her lifetime, Sylvia Plath as an author came to life when she committed suicide. It is no wonder she should immediately come to mind when dealing with the question of authorship and its commodification: labeled as a feminist, a post-modern, a victim, a poet, a second-rate author, she has been alienated by all the images that have flourished since her death. In comparison with the relatively limited number of texts she actually wrote in such a short life, the images and pictures of Plath have proliferated indeed. These images filled in a void left by the enigma of her suicide. It is true that Sylvia Plath is “the Marilyn Monroe of the literati”: a beautiful, blonde American girl of the ‘50s who sits in all kinds of dress and who coyly, joyfully or flirtingly looks at the camera like a supermodel. Whether it be on the covers of her books, in the biopic, or elsewhere, Sylvia Plath is associated with an ideal image. All this has undeniably helped glamorize the American author and has contributed to reinforce the myth surrounding her. This paper will focus on how the editorial practice influences our reading to such an extent that it makes us forget that Sylvia Plath’s own relationship with images calls for caution. Most pictures have emphasized some aspects of Plath’s writing (gender roles and femininity), but they have covered up other important issues related with self-representation.

Keywords: Sylvia Plath, authorial commodification, authorial self-representation, editorial intervention

How to Cite:

Boileau, N., (2012) “Sylvia Plath Through the Looking-Glass: Too Beautiful to be Dead”, Authorship 1(2). doi: https://doi.org/10.21825/aj.v1i2.771

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Published on
05 Jul 2012
Peer Reviewed