… and the results are rather scary! I’ve been reading Plath since my late teens – which is quite a while ago – and so I’ve gradually gathered a large number of books by and about her over the years. Reading “Eve Rhymes” recently and then trying to find a space to squeeze it onto the Plath/Hughes shelf meant that I ended up pulling all of them *off* the shelves for a dust, audit and reorganise. And here they are, spread out on the spare room bed – a rather large and scary pile!
Looking at them all set me thinking about how much has been written about Plath and Hughes, their relationship, their work, their legacy et al. And it’s not as if the subject has lost interest for the public – even after the passing of Plath, Hughes and their youngest child, there still seem to be restrictions on the availability of research material, accusations of the Estate controlling access and use of quotes, and bitterness on all sides.
Picking up and flicking through a few of the books brought back memories of reading these partial-biographies, attempts to get at the truth and the way that in some ways they’ve muddied the waters. I doubt the controversy will ever go away – at least, while some of the protagonists are still with us. I would like to see Frieda Hughes, a fine poet and artist in her own right, in control of the Estate as I feel personally she would bring a sanity and sense of balance to things.
I certainly don’t have all of the books on Plath/Hughes and I find myself wondering what would be the point of reading yet another version of their lives. The most valuable one I can think of at the moment *is* “Eve Rhymes”, for giving me back a vision of Plath as a complete artist. I’d love to see her complete “Letters Home” if they still exist, and I wish that all the journals, as well as the lost novel, could be found. But I doubt that will happen, and in the meantime I shall just return to Plath’s poetry and stories when I want to connect with her.
However, that does leave me with the rather difficult decision of whether I should put all these books back on the shelf, and whether I will ever read them again!!