A semi-autobiographical account of a breakdown Sylvia Plath suffered during her years at Smith, the Bell Jar is the penultimate description of mental illness in American literature. Honestly, I'm surprised I haven't made a point to read this novel before, or any of Ms. Plath's poetry. She spared no punches while describing her illness in stark and plain, yet still poetic, language.
I veer between a desire to read novels of this nature and avoiding them completely, being a veteran of depression myself. It is both a relief and a fear of mine to be able to relate so much to what these women have to say about their own experiences. And in the case of The Bell Jar, it was definitely more relatable than not. I think for that reason alone, despite the kinship I felt with the author's own experiences, I intentionally distanced myself from the novel, reading it slowly over a long period of time, and then rushing through the last 100 pages.
It's place in American literature is more than well deserved, and I am pleased that despite the objections of her family and friends the novel was eventually published in the States. It is an important piece of literature, and I fear that without it's publication, Ms. Plath's poetry would have been forgotten.