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Today in Literature

February 11, 2009

11 February 1963: On this day, Sylvia Plath committed the most famous suicide in literary history by putting her head inside a gas oven. Plath created some of the best loved poetry and literature of the 20th century during her brief and increasingly tumultuous life.

I have not read much of her work, but I have read Ted Hughes 1998 collection of poetry, called Birthday Letters, largely inspired by his relationship with Sylvia Plath. Since Plath’s death, there has been an ongoing struggle due to the difficulties in their marriage between the sympathizers of Plath and those of Hughes. This collection contains my favorite poem, “Daffodils” and is largely sympathetic toward Hughes, the poet, but speaks of their love–often papering over their difficulties.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2009 2:45 pm

    I didn’t know this.

    I would have put Hemingway at the top of “most famous literary suicide” list.

    But a gas oven… that’s unique.

  2. February 11, 2009 3:06 pm

    For some reason I didn’t even think of Hemingway. While Plath is unique, Papa’s is possibly the more gruesome.

  3. dullatbreakfast permalink
    February 14, 2009 12:50 pm

    I fell in love with Sylvia Plath my freshman year at Harding. Amanda…something did her sym on “Daffodils” and I was intrigued. I read “The Bell Jar” that spring break and absolutely loved it. I haven’t read as much of her poetry, but her dedication to her craft was astounding.

  4. February 18, 2009 12:47 pm

    She did it very neatly, too. From what I’ve read, she spread a towel on the oven rack before placing her head inside.

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