The Bell Jar

[PLATH, Sylvia] LUCAS, Victoria


[PLATH, Sylvia] LUCAS, Victoria The Bell Jar

William Heinemann, 1962.

Uncorrected proof copy. Publisher's white wrappers, printed in black. Author's own copy, with her ownership inscription and address to the first page, "Sylvia Plath, Court Green, North Tawton, Devonshire." Substantial autograph corrections made by Plath throughout the text in blue ink, 78 in all. A very good copy, with some marks to the wrappers and some creasing to the spine commensurate with a closely revised proof.

Sylvia Plath's own proof copy of The Bell Jar, her only novel and final published work, containing her final changes to the text before publication. Her revisions, of which there are over seventy, bear out a thorough examination of the text and show "that Plath read her proofs of The Bell Jar very carefully and extends our understanding of her involvement in the creative process beyond the composition of the work itself" (Steinberg). Plath received the proofs, she notes in a letter to Ruth Beuscher, her therapist to whom, at this point, she wanted to dedicate the novel, "the day after Ted left... It saved the day for me: I roared and roared, it was so funny and good"( 11th July 1962).
In his study of textual differences between the proof copy of The Bell Jar and the first Heinemann edition, Peter K. Steinberg has written "the most thrilling difference is the two instances in the proof where "Miss Lucas" survived Plath's updating of the heroine's name from Victoria Lucas to Esther Greenwood." Victoria Lucas was Plath's chosen pseudonym for the novel and was, too, in its formative stages the name of the heroine. Despite deciding in November 1961 to change the name in order put some distance between author and heroine in an already markedly autobiographical novel, two instances remained in the proof. Both of these are corrected in Plath's hand here. She also decides, on page 53, to change the name of one of her characters, striking through "Plato" and replacing him with "Socrates": "I collected men with interesting names. I already knew a Socrates. He was tall and ugly and intellectual and the son of some big Greek movie producer in Hollywood, but also a Catholic, which ruined it for both of us." Other changes include amendments to grammar and punctuation, as well as corrections of a purely typographic nature.
Steinberg also notes how the changes he recorded, totalling sixty-six, "are the result of edits made either by Plath herself when she reviewed the proof or by the editors as they prepared the final typesetting". A comparison of Plath's corrections in her own proof copy and the published version show not only more requested authorial revisions than previously recorded, but that almost all the textual changes recorded by Steinberg derive from Plath's hand in her own copy of the proof.
The proof bears a copyright date of 1962 and the work was eventually was published, amended as per her revisions, pseudonymously on 14 January 1963, just five weeks before her suicide. It was not published under her own name until 1967.

PROVENANCE: Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), her ownership inscription, thence by descent.

Peter K. Steinberg, Textual Variations In The Bell Jar Publications (2012)

Stock ID: 38432


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