Saturday, April 25, 2009

Contemporary Fiction "The Bell Jar"

This is the Contemporary Fiction version of The Bell Jar. I think it is the last of the moniker publications before it was revealed Sylvia Plath was the author. From what I can tell, CF is a sort of book club. I was surprised at how nice a version this one is. Other than a tiny bit of scruffing on the back, it seems pristine and the hardcover lettering is mirror-like with its bright aluminum shine.
To the left we have it canoodling with a naked Colossus!


Peter K Steinberg said...

This book was published in 1964: but, did you know that within six weeks of Plath's death, Hughes gave Heinemann permission to disclose Plath as the author? (This permission is in letter that is held at Smith College.) So, "Victoria Lucas is a pseudonym, and we are not in a position to disclose any details of the author's identity" is in some ways a lie. It is possible that something changed and Hughes retracted his March 1963 decision.

Laurie said...

Very interesting, Peter.
I wonder 'who' instigated the permission?
Less than two months into Sylvia's death and her husband doing "that" sort of business does not reflect well on him. But he did have two small children and limited income, maybe it was a necessity.
I'd rather think Heinemann was trying to take advantage and caught him at an opportune moment.
If it wasn't withdrawn, I wonder if CF was embracing the 'mystique' of an unknown writer.

George Fitzgerald said...

Laurie - Posting here as I'm a bit late but want to thank you for your compliment on my Cuba/Communist essay!

panther said...

"We are not in a position to disclose any details of the author's identity"-how wonderfully Victorian this sounds ! It puts me in mind of the whole rumpus that surrounded the publication of Emily Bronte's WUTHERING HEIGHTS in 1847. Critics presumed it must have been written by a man "of somewhat rude education and manners" or some such. I think it was only after her death that the publishers came clean (with Charlotte Bronte's permission) and told the world that Ellis Bell was, in fact, shock horror, a WOMAN !!!!!

Laurie said...

Interesting info about Bronte.

It seems like CF is really playing up the 'unknown author' bit for a bit of drama.

Anonymous said...

Actually, all 3 of the Brontes published under male pseudonyms: Ann Bronte (AB) was 'Acton Bell'; Emily Bronte (EB) was 'Ellis Bell'; Charlotte Bronte (CB) published "Jane Eyre" under the name 'Currer Bell'.

The Plath Diaries said...

Oh my god! How exciting to see photographs of this! Is the copy your own??

Jonathan said...

I recently acquired a copy of this as a gift for someone. From the research I was doing whilst looking for a copy my vague understanding was that there was a copyright issue with republishing the book in Plath's name as it had already been published under a pseudonym. Which is partly why it didn't appear in the States for so long.

I am also not sure if the true author was public knowledge or not at this point. Certainly it was 2 and a bit years before a version under Plath's named appeared.

Also very hard to gauge the print run as it was offered as part of a subscription book club, but it was an occasional, 'opt-in' selection, not one of the automatic ones you got with your club subscription. So whatever the print run, the amount that actually went into circulation is probably quite small.

Anyway, lovely book, and your copy looks in splendid condition. I really love this blog, by the way. thank you for sharing.