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Ariel, first published in 1965, contains many of Sylvia Plath’s best-known poems, written in an extraordinary burst of creativity just before her death in 1963. Including poems such as ‘Lady Lazarus’, ‘Edge’, ‘Daddy’ and ‘Paralytic’, it was the first of four collections to be published by Faber & Faber. Ariel is the volume on which Sylvia Plath’s reputation as one of the most original, daring and gifted poets of the twentieth century rests.
‘Since she died my mother has been dissected, analysed, reinterpreted, reinvented, fictionalized, and in some cases completely fabricated. It comes down to this: her own words describe her best, her ever-changing moods defining the way she viewed her world and the manner in which she pinned down her subjects with a merciless eye.’ – from Frieda Hughes’s introduction to Ariel
In 1940, nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris has just been kicked out of Vassar College, owing to her lackluster freshman-year performance. Her affluent parents send her to Manhattan to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns a flamboyant, crumbling midtown theater called the Lily Playhouse. There Vivian is introduced to an entire cosmos of unconventional and charismatic characters, from the fun-chasing showgirls to a sexy male actor, a grand-dame actress, a lady-killer writer, and no-nonsense stage manager. But when Vivian makes a personal mistake that results in professional scandal, it turns her new world upside down in ways that it will take her years to fully understand. Ultimately, though, it leads her to a new understanding of the kind of life she craves – and the kind of freedom it takes to pursue it. It will also lead to the love of her life, a love that stands out from all the rest.