The Bell Jar

Reception

The Bell Jar received "warily positive reviews."[12] The short time span between the publication of the book and Plath's suicide resulted in "few innocent readings" of the novel.[4]

The majority of early readers focused primarily on autobiographical connections from Plath to the protagonist. In response to autobiographical criticism, critic Elizabeth Hardwick urged that readers distinguish between Plath as a writer and Plath as an "event."[4] Robert Scholes, writing for The New York Times, praised the novel's "sharp and uncanny descriptions."[4] Mason Harris of the West Coast Review complimented the novel as using "the 'distorted lens' of madness [to give] an authentic vision of a period which exalted the most oppressive ideal of reason and stability."[4] Howard Moss of The New Yorker gave a mixed review, praising the "black comedy" of the novel, but added that there was "something girlish in its manner [that] betrays the hand of the amateur novelist."[4]


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