On the morning of 11 February 1963, Sylvia Plath committed suicide in London. At the time of her death, she was known as the author of a first, moderately well received book of poems, The Colossus (1960). In addition, she had recently published a novel, The Bell Jar (1963), under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. She had published a number of prose stories and sketches in various magazines and journals. Plath also left behind a manuscript of newer work, titled Ariel, which consisted of poems written for the most part in the last five months of her life. The eventual publication of this book, somewhat altered in form from Plath's original intention, occurred in 1965. Plath's considerable renown as a writer dates from the publication of Ariel, which was quickly recognized as a poetic work of the highest order. As the facts about her life, and particularly the manner of her death, became widely known, she developed a cult status. Many critical commentators found themselves taking sides in a startlingly polarized debate about the merit of Plath's late work. Much of the critical controversy centered around poems such as Daddy and Lady Lazarus, in which Plath conflates details from the recent past of Europe (in particular references to the concentration camps and the Nazi persecution of the Jews) with images depicting the trauma of her personal history.Less
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