Initially recognised as a confessional or extremist poet, Plath was significantly reassessed by revisionist feminist readings of the 1970s, which argued for her consideration within a feminist canon and signalled the move towards increasingly sophisticated theoretical discussion. The publication of Plath's Collected Poems in 1981 confirmed her as a poet of stature and maturity.
In this Icon Readers' Guide, Claire Brennan explores the critical debates surrounding Plath's poetry. Beginning with reviews of her initial collection, The Colossus, the reader is clearly guided through the profusion of critical material that has variously described Plath as feminine and feminist, personal and political, an American modernist and an English Romantic. The Guide includes extracts from Robert Lowell's influential foreword to the American edition of Ariel, and significant cultural readings from Susan Van Dyne and Alan Sinfield. Recognising the centrality of Plath to feminist debates, this Guide follows the progression from Sandra M. Gilbert's defining essay of 1979 to Jacqueline Rose's ground-breaking study, The Haunting of Sylvia Plath (1991). The final chapter contains extracts from recent articles offering innovative considerations of subjectivity and nationality.