MixedFinancial Times (UK)Clark is at pains to set Plath apart from the [feminist] movement that claimed her, stressing her complicated desire to be both a midwife to male genius and an equal to the male poets she knew ... Red Comet’s most valuable contribution is its clever and careful tessellation of the texts and creeds that produced Ariel and the other late poems. The analysis suffers from an overemphasis on Plath’s juvenilia, which is treated with an earnestness that sometimes strains credulity. Yet over hundreds of pages, Clark skilfully weaves together Plath’s influences, from Nietzsche, Joyce, Dostoevsky and Yeats, to Theodore Roethke, Robert Lowell and, perhaps most important, the work of Ted Hughes ... If Clark ultimately fails in her attempt to \'free Plath from the cultural baggage of the past 50 years\', it is because her predecessors—beginning with Plath herself—were too successful in their mythmaking.
A. N. Wilson
PositiveFinancial Times (UK)Wilson’s methods are unlike those of his army of predecessors, whose research he credits appreciatively — he mostly eschews new detective work in favour of a reinterpretation of the existing material. That includes the evidence of fervent admirers as well as those who harboured misgivings ... Wilson’s attempt to pin down the Dickens we don’t know is energetic. He leads the reader by the hand, like one of the ghosts in A Christmas Carol, to visit various moments in the writer’s life ... But as he draws his compelling portrait Wilson is continually confounded by his subject’s inconsistencies ... The thesis is only partly satisfying. It helps explain the outright hypocrisy of much of Dickens’ behaviour, but only insofar as it recasts it as evidence of another perversion.