chapter  1
62 Pages

Reading modernist texts

Sylvia Plath’s library and teaching notes
ByAmanda Golden

This chapter argues that Sylvia Plath was an exemplary student of midcentury modernist criticism. As she prepared to teach, Plath retraced her professors’ steps, reading the critics they had introduced and others she had encountered since. By writing in her books and composing teaching materials, Plath preserved some of the interpretations and terminology with which she had become familiar. Ultimately, Plath redefined the modernist discourse that she encountered as a student and teacher as she depicted the post-World War II milieu in her novel The Bell Jar (1963) and in such late poems as “Lady Lazarus” (1962).