Thursday, February 07, 2013

Carl Rollyson's "American Isis," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath by Carl Rollyson.

The entry begins:
Who would I want to play Sylvia Plath? Before I answer that question let me say a few words about Sylvia, the film starring Gwyneth Paltrow. It is a sorry thing. Poor Sylvia, she could not write as fluently as her Teddy boy. She baked cakes when she should have been penning poems. She gassed herself because she could not have him to herself. Poor Sylvia. The film is such a farrago of half-fact and simplistic psychologizing - not to mention that gratuitous nude scene with Paltrow perched on a sofa, bereft because Ted has abandoned her for the pregnant Assia Wevill.

What is astounding about Plath is her relish of multiple roles. But the biographies present her as a mass of contradictions - feminist and subservient wife, high-art poetess and hack writer, the Mademoiselle who wrote a potboiler (a term the Plath character uses for The Bell Jar in Sylvia).

The filmmakers, like her biographers, are simply parroting what her contemporaries said about her. Susan Sontag, a member of the same generation, lamented in an interview that Plath felt obliged to seek popular attention so cravenly. Plath, however, viewed literature as a campaign to be fought on all fronts. The extraordinary point about her is that...[read on]
View the video trailer for American Isis, and learn more about the book and author at Carl Rollyson's website, blog, and Facebook page.

The Page 99 Test: American Isis.

My Book, The Movie: American Isis.

--Marshal Zeringue