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The Bell Jar

· The novel ·

One of the most important novels of the twentieth century on mental illness is fifty years. It was, in fact, 1963 when - under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas – the American poetess Sylvia Plath published The Bell Jar, in which she describes the slow slide into insanity of Esther Greenwood, a brilliant student of Smith College and trainee at a fashion magazine in New York. The story, with strongly autobiographical traits, runs between existential difficulties, suicide attempts, mental asylum and treatments based on electroshock. In real life, during the penultimate year of university Sylvia Plath had made a first suicide attempt, which resulted in hospitalization in a psychiatric institution and diagnosis of bipolar disorder. She will kill herself at just thirty years of age using gas in her home kitchen. It was on 11 February 1963 when not even a month had passed since the publication and soon the author’s name was revealed, violating her will. A precocious and talented poet, Sylvia Plath desperately asked for help all her life: The Bell Jar is thus also a testimony to our inability to listen to mental distress. ( @ GiuliGaleotti )

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