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This review is taken from PN Review 216, Volume 40 Number 4, March - April 2014.

How Much is Enough? Sylvia Plath: Drawings, edited by Frieda Hughes (Faber & Faber) £16.99

Years ago, a friend of mine who was living in New York City was having a conversation with the host at a party when Monica Lewinsky – newly famous for the private details of her calamitous affair with a US President – arrived. When she approached the host, he greeted her and then turned to my friend and asked, by way of introduction, ‘M—, do you know Monica Lewinsky?’ My friend answered, ‘No, I don’t – although I feel as though I do.’ They all laughed. The joke, of course, rests on the fact that there’s a tipping point in terms of the amount and kinds of information one can know about another person before you begin to feel you have an intimate relationship with them, regardless of the fact that the two of you have never met.

In light of the countless biographies – plus the unabridged journals; the selected letters; the collected poems; the two volumes of Ariel, both the one Hughes edited and published in 1965 and the ‘restored’ edition published by Frieda Hughes in 2004, which follows the selection and order of the original manuscript left by Plath when she committed suicide; the collection of short prose; the autobiographical novel; the long paper trail of articles dealing with the internecine squabbles between Ted Hughes and his sister Olwyn on one side and, on the other side, second-wave feminists who felt compelled to put on the equivalent of show-trials in order to publicly indict the unfaithful Hughes for his depressed wife’s suicide; and the other tiffs and turf wars ...
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