‘One Life: Sylvia Plath’
Sylvia Plath’s “light side certainly exists,” writes Elaine Showalter in the NYR Daily about a new show dedicated to the poet in Washington, DC, “although any exhibition or book about her attracts those who identify with her dark side. From her Smith senior thesis on the double in Dostoevsky, to the many masks she wore during her short lifetime, Plath was obsessed by divided selves. In her senior year of high school, she painted the cubist Triple-Face Portrait of a woman with green, blue, and yellow hair. She designed and painted clothes for her blonde and brunette paper dolls, perhaps based on Betty and Veronica from the Archie comics but, in any case, archetypal representations of feminine duality as far back as Scott’s Ivanhoe. Many of her youthful self-portraits show her as a blonde. In June 1954, a few months after her release from the McLean Psychiatric Hospital just outside Boston in 1954, where she underwent electroshock treatment, Plath bleached her hair. Was it also a kind of auto-therapy?”
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