The second volume in the definitive, complete collection of the letters of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Sylvia Plath, from the early years of her marriage to Ted Hughes to the final days leading to her suicide in 1963.
There are several moments in this second volume of Plath’s letters when you feel you are watching a Greek tragedy ... Yet to regard the letters merely as raw material for poems undervalues them. They are astonishing in themselves, terrible in their intensity and as raw as freshly sliced meat. As a real-life depiction of a mind in agony they are, so far as I know, unmatched in literature.
And what a tour de force [The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. 2] is... Her energy even when she is doing or observing the most ordinary things vaults off the page ... But Plath’s panic is, at bottom, existential. There is a terror in her of being alive at all, which gives her poetry its hellish edge but which the letters keep valiantly at bay. It’s through the material world, and her own body in particular, that she makes herself feel real: through food and the touch of the sun on her skin; sex and childbirth.
In this new book of letters, written between 1956 and 1963, ending a week before Plath’s death, at 30, we see the [project's] goals triumphantly and tragically fulfilled ... In her final letters there was a note of wild, almost unbearable optimism... It’s a genuine shock to see her strength flare ('my life, my sense of identity, seemed to be flying back to me from all quarters, buried hidden places') just as the pages begin to dwindle. No one can seem quite so alive on the page as Plath...