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Like most avid readers of poetry, there resides a special place in my heart for Sylvia Plath. Which is quite funny since there remains a great deal about Plath: her upbringing, marriage, friendships, opinions regarding her work, and suicide which we still don’t completely comprehend. Instead of constructing a definitive portrait, Malcolm unpacks Plath’s confusing, contradictory mythologies with grace and analytical patience. This book is subtle, informed, relaxed, and unrelenting in all that it observes. In the end, Malcolm does not argue that there is one or many versions of the beloved poetess. Quite the contrary: there are many, many, different versions of us, the readers, who ensure, sometimes to the point of demise, that our mythology, our idea of Plath, is the real version which used to be alive—as if a poet ever truly dies.— From Bennet's picks
"Rich and theatrical."--The New York Times Book Review.
"The Silent Woman is one of the deepest, loveliest, and most problematic things Janet Malcolm has written. It is so subtle, so patiently analytical, and so true that it is difficult to envisage anyone writing again about Plath and Hughes. She is the cat who has licked the plate clean. It has an almost disabling authority about it, a finality like a father's advice."--James Wood, The Guardian (London)
"Not since Virginia Woolf has anyone thought so trenchantly about the strange art of biography."--Christopher Benfey, Newsday
"There is more intellectual excitement in one of Malcolm's riffs than in many a thick academic tome . . . She is among the most intellectually provocative of authors . . . able to turn epiphanies of perception into explosions of insight."--David Lehman, Boston Globe
"It is the best-written and most stirring polemic of the year. Completely brilliant."--David Hare, The Times (London)
"The Journalist and the Murderer was a deeply thoughtful exposure of the moral problems of in-depth journalism . . . [The Silent Woman] contains some of the best thinking I know on both the practical and the philosophical problems of biography."--Bernard Crick, New Statesman & Society