The history of Plath's reception as a writer has been beset by the language of scandal. Psychobiographical speculation, combined with the controversy surrounding the posthumous publication of her work, has dominated critical debate at the expense of her poetic achievement. In new contrast, Sylvia Plath and the Theatre of Mourning offers a theoretically informed yet extremely readable engagement with the texts themselves. The book challenges the critical tendency to see Plath's writing in 'confessional' terms and draws attention to the crucial and hitherto neglected dimension of self-reflexivity. Christina Britzolakis argues that Plath developed a theatrical conception of the speaking subject which made the work of mourning inseparable from its performance in language: she shows how Plath explored the potentialities and limits of figurative language, and also engaged with the legacy of modernism, to arrive at this distinctive mode.
Interweaving close reading and theoretical reflection, Sylvia Plath and the Theatre of Mourning constructs a framework of interpretation which attends to the formal complexity of the texts without detaching them either from their historical moment or from contemporary debates about language, gender, and subjectivity.
Lecturer, Department of Literature and Comparative Literature, University of Warwick