資料彙整   /   作家  /  Sylvia  Plath  西爾維亞.柏拉絲
Sylvia  Plath
西爾維亞.柏拉絲
圖片來源:http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Studios/8984/silviagalery.htm
主要文類:Poem
資料提供者:Claire Chen/陳玉敏;Kate Liu/劉紀雯;Raphael Schulte/蕭笛雷
關鍵字詞:Modern and Contemporary American Poetry; Introduction to Literature:Poetry (II):Personal Identity and Modern and Contemporary American Poetry;Ekphrasis poem

西爾維亞.柏拉絲

1932-1963

 
        西爾維亞.柏拉絲出生於一九三二年 波士頓,身為家中長女,柏拉絲還有一個弟弟華倫(Warren)。柏拉絲的父母皆為知識份子,其父奧圖 •柏拉絲是波士頓大學的德文與生物學教授,同時也是一位研究蜜蜂的專家。一九三四年出版了研究蜜蜂行為的報告。然而西爾維亞.柏拉絲的父親在她八歲時就過逝。奧圖 •柏拉絲受糖尿病的折磨有四年之久,後來一條腿也被迫鋸掉。西爾維亞.柏拉絲受其父的死影響很大,在她的詩中處處可見她對其父複雜的情感。因為母親不准家人公開地表示對過逝父親悼念,西爾維亞.柏拉絲也一直耿耿於懷。在其父過逝後,全家搬到波士頓的郊區,柏拉絲的母親擔起家計到波士頓大學教授秘書課程,而小孩就由祖父母代為照顧。
 

        西爾維亞.柏拉絲在十七歲時就已展露其寫作天份,高中畢業後,西爾維亞.柏拉絲贏得一位羅曼史作家(Olive Higgins) 所提供的獎學金到史密斯大學(Smith College)讀書。此時期,柏拉絲的第一篇短篇故事〈夏天不會再來〉("An Summer Will not Come Again")和詩〈苦澀的草莓〉("Bitter Strawberries")都相繼出版。在九五三年柏拉絲贏得流行雜誌的獎而受邀至紐約的雜誌社(Mademoiselle Magazine) 當客座編輯。和許多五零年代的女性一樣,柏拉絲感受到身為一個作家和社會所附與女人的使命有所衝突因而倍感到壓力。如同她半自傳小說《瓶中女人》(The Bell Jar)中的女主角愛絲特(Esther),柏拉絲在回到波士頓後經歷了身心失調,最後接受精神科醫生的治療。在她重返史密斯大學後,柏拉絲持續地在學業及創作上表現優異。
 

        一九五五年西爾維亞.柏拉絲獲得進入英國劍橋大學的獎學金。在劍橋大學柏拉絲不但取得了碩士學位也認識她的先生泰德•修 (Ted Hughes),泰德•修後來也成為英國的桂冠詩人。婚後西爾維亞.柏拉絲和其夫搬回美國,柏拉絲在士頓大學任教一段時間後,毅然放棄教職專心寫作。然而卻也面臨了理想與現實經濟生活的考驗。在搬回倫敦後,柏拉絲生下女兒芙拉妲(Frieda)。在一九六零年,柏拉絲的第一本詩集《巨像》(The Colussus)出版。在經歷一次流產及闌尾去除後,柏拉絲的第二個兒子尼可拉斯(Nicholas)出生了。這段時間柏拉絲忙於傳統婦女的生活,在她發現先生與一位家中好友的外遇後,其苦悶與憤恨在其詩(Ariel) 中表露無遺。再與其夫分居不久,柏拉絲結束短暫的生命,享年三十一歲。
 

        被譽為「告解詩人」(Confessional Poet), 柏拉絲用平易的語言文字,豐富的意象,暗喻描述自身最深刻的感受。她的主題常環繞在周遭的人際關係,父女,母女,夫妻。被後代評論家推崇為女性主義先驅的柏拉絲,作品中也不難看出其熱愛藉由神話,文化中挖掘及探索各種女性的角色。其中更可見柏拉絲對掙脫時代加諸女性的枷鎖的渴望。柏拉絲喜愛的另一個主題,自殺與死亡,和自己的故事息息相關。在她的文學世界中,自殺是一種藝術,一種昇華,而死亡更是一種超脫與重生。相較於其他作家,柏拉絲的短篇故事和小說不但具有告白的特質,其語言更有別於小說家,而內含無盡的詩意與想像力。

 

   
 
   

Sylvia Plath

1932-1963

 
 Plath's Life

 Plath's Art

 
 Plath's Life
   

A. Family Background

Born in Boston on October 27 1932, Sylvia Plath was the first child in her family, and her brother Warren was born in 1935. Her father, Otto Plath and her mother, Aurelia Plath were both well-educated people. Otto was a professor of German and biology at Boston University and also a famous authority on bees. In 1934, he published a treatise on the behavior of bees. However Plath's father died when she was eight years old, Plath was much influenced by her father's death and by the fact that Aurelia did not permit them to mourn openly. Otto had suffered from diabetes mellitus for four years and his leg was amputated before he died. After the death of Otto, they moved to Wellesley, a Boston suburb. Plath's grandparents moved to live with them, and her mother worked as a teacher teaching secretarial works at Boston University.

B. Early Success and Mental Breakdown

By the age of seventeenth, Plath was prolific and gifted in writing many short stories and poems. After she graduated from high school, she won a scholarship endowed by Olive Higgins Prouty, a romance novelist, and went to the prestigious Smith College. Her first story " An Summer Will Not Come Again" and a poem "Bitter Strawberries" were both published. In 1953, Plath won a contest and was invited as a guest editor for Mademoiselle magazine in New York. Like many women in 1950s, Plath found contradictions between being a writer and being a woman. Like Esther Greenwood in The Bell Jar, after Plath returned home, she suffered from mental problems and received shock treatment. However, Plath eventually returned to Smith College and succeeded in publishing her works.

C. Marriage

In 1955, she won a scholarship to Cambridge, where she earned a masters degree. She met the poet Ted Hughes, who later became Poet Laureate of England. They married in June 1956. In 1957 they moved back to the States and Plath taught in the Smith College. She later gave up teaching in order to write full time. Due to the rejections from publication, Plath soon discovered that it was difficult for a full time writer to gain stable financial support. In 1959, she moved back to London and had her first child, Frieda. (Around this time she wrote the poem "Metaphors.") In 1960, Plath had her first book The Colossus published.

D. Motherhood

Before her second child Nicholas was born, Plath had a miscarriage and her appendix removed. This was when she was writing her semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar. After her son was born in 1962, Plath was occupied by raising children and when she discovered Ted's affair with a family friend Alessia Wevill, she reflected her bitterness and anger in her poetry Ariel and in the same year, Plath separated from her husband. Ariel was published posthumously in 1965.

E. Death

Her household burdens and her husband's betrayal produced in Plath exhaustion, depression and tension, which led to her final suicide in 1963. Uncollected Poems, Crossing the Water, and Winter Trees were also published posthumously. Sylvia Plath's Collected Poems won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1982.

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 Plath's Art
 

A. Influences:

  1. Theodore Roethke
     
  2. Pablo Neruda
     
  3. Emily Dickinson
     
  4. Robert Lowell
     
  5. Anne Sexton
     

B. Works written by and related to Plath

  1. 1960 The Colossus and Other Poems
     
  2. 1963 The Bell Jar (London); 1970 (U.S)
     
  3. 1965 Ariel
     
  4. 1971 Crossing the Water
     
  5. 1972 Winter Trees
     
  6. 1975 Letter Homes (edited by Aurelia Plath)
     
  7. 1976 The Bed Book
     
  8. 1977 Johnny Panic and The Bible of Dreams and Other Prose Writings
     
  9. 1981 Collected Poems (edited by Ted Hughes)
     
  10. 1998 Birthday Letters
     
  11. 2000 The Journals of Sylvia Plath

C. Themes

1. Family and Relationships

a. Father-daughter
b. Husband-wife
c. Mother-daughter

2. Roles for women

a. Female Identity: poet, wife, mother, daughter
b. Exploring and examining the roles women play: lover, mythical women, spinster, prostitute, widow, witch

3. Death - Rebirth

4. Freedom/Celebration

D. Features

1. Confessional
2. Colloquial tones and language
3. Rich imagery, metaphors, symbols

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Reference

 
Baym, Nina and FranklinWayne, Eds. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: Norton, 1994.

Wagner-Martin, Linda. Sylvia Plath: A Biography. New York: Simon and Schuster, c1987.

---. Sylvia Plath: A Literary Life. New York: St. Martin's P, 1999.

Wisker, Gina, Rob Abbott, eds. Sylvia Plath: A Beginner's Guide. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2001.

   
 
   
 

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