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Sylvia Plath’s copy of Four Quartets

May 27, 2013

SP For Quartets color

A year ago I sat in the New York Public Library’s special collections room drawing the books that belonged to famous authors. This was among them–Sylvia Plath’s copy of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets.  It was given to her by her then boyfriend Dick Norton (known as “Buddy Willard” in The Bell Jar).  It is heavily underlined and annotated in black fountain pen ink.  Also, folded and tucked in the back was an article torn out of the sunday New York Times Magazine on a play by Eliot being produced in New York, also underlined in places.  (I could do a whole book on the things that fall out of people’s books.)  To hold books once owned by someone long gone is to hold something intimate and personal to them.  In the case of Plath’s copy of Four Quartets it is to hold a relic of both a relationship and of her apprenticeship as a poet.  It was a pleasure to look at and utterly sublime to draw.

  1. May 27, 2013 3:57 pm

    I am currently reading Plath’s journals and doing a series of posts reflecting on her early perspectives, hoping to foster dialogue about her life and work. My first post is here –

    I’d love for you to drop in and join the conversation.

    Keep up the good blogging.

  2. Cecile permalink
    May 27, 2013 4:02 pm

    It’s gorgeous – and so is your description.

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