Edward Neill

Barbie Doll With Brains

Sylvia Plath: The Critical Heritage

By Linda W Wagner (Ed)

Routledge 332pp £35 order from our bookshop

 

‘My heart aches / And a drowsy numb-ness pains / My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk / Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains…’ wrote Keats, in lines which seem eerily prescient of the effect of Critical Heritage volumes. Indeed, ‘Heritage’ is now a word to freeze the blood. Though libraries love them, these tomes are largely monuments to the vanity and impertinence of critics, to the chorus of indolent reviewers forced to experience the shock of the new while remaining largely powerless to understand or articulate it. Consequently, the hand moves gingerly through the barrel of sawdust, encountering the occasional grape.

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