ENG 661: Sylvia Path & Ted Hughes
TR 6-9 pm Allendale
This summer we will be studying two of the brightest stars of poetry in English, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, who were that rarity, a husband-wife literary power couple neither of whom outshone the other. Plath, American, became a feminist icon in the 1960s after the publication of her novel The Bell Jar, closely followed by her suicide.
Hughes, English, in the early years of their marriage was the stronger poet and mentored Plath. Then at the end of their 7-year marriage, in a single “miracle year,” she wrote some of the most incandescent poems in the English language, far surpassing Hughes’s fame, until he became Britain’s Poet Laureate in 1984. She haunted him for the rest of his life, which became evident in 1998, when 35 years after her death, as he himself was dying of cancer, he published Birthday Letters, a series of poems written to Plath over the years in which he examined their marriage.
We will organize the course around Diane Middlebrook’s fabulous biography of their marriage.