A new biography of Sylvia Plath that focuses on her remarkable literary and intellectual achievements, while restoring the woman behind the long-held myths about her life and art. With access to never-before-seen materials—including unpublished letters and manuscripts; court, police, and psychiatric records; and new interviews—Heather Clark paints a picture of Plath's work and life.
Red Comet, Heather Clark’s heroic biography of Sylvia Plath, draws on a plethora of untapped archives and letters—and even a previously undiscovered novel—to resurrect Plath ... illuminates Plath’s life in unprecedented detail. Suicide attempts take a backseat to fiercely focused genius ... Red Comet achieves the remarkable: It’s a majestic tome with the narrative propulsion of a thriller. We now have the complete story.
... [an] incandescent, richly researched biography ... Red Comet takes us on a literary picaresque, drawing on untapped archives, Plath’s complete correspondence, interviews with surviving members of the couple’s social and professional circles, and, most crucially, on Hughes’ journals and letters. From both perspectives Clark evokes how their common purpose rose and later diverged, invaluable reportage missing from other books ... Clark delves deeper than biographers who have gone before: We see the poet as if peering through the Hubble Telescope for the first time, blurred galaxies and nebulas bursting into crystalline detail. Yet this gold standard of a biography does something more: Red Comet is a page-turner, particularly when Clark shifts to Plath’s final two years in England ... By centering Plath’s evolving command of craft—by focusing on her peerless lyrical ear—Clark peels away clichéd interpretations much as the poet shed her false selves ... A bravura performance, Red Comet is the one we’ve waited for.
...just as one is wondering whether there can possibly be anything new to be said, here comes Heather Clark’s Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath hurtling down the chute, weighing in at more than 1,000 densely printed pages ... as Plath and her complex, much analyzed legacy fade with the passing of successive generations, and her work grows more removed from the cultural mainstream, now seems a prime moment to revive her tale and try to bring all of its elements together ... poignant ... Clark is at pains to see Plath clearly, to rescue her from the reductive clichés and distorted readings of her work largely because of the tragedy of her ending ... there is no denying the book’s intellectual power and, just as important, its sheer readability. Clark is a felicitous writer and a discerning critic of Plath’s poetry ... Instead of depleting my interest in Plath, the book stimulated it further ... Clark’s talent for scene-painting and inserting the stray but illustrative detail ('By January 31, the date of her last surviving check stub, she had only 59 pounds') contributes to create a harrowing picture of the narrow confines of the London that Plath had moved to with such high hopes.