Monday, 9 May 2011

Exciting news! Personal life and thoughts on Assia..

I made a reference in my last entry to some exciting news in the world of my Plath PhD so I'm just going to cut straight to it: I have been awarded a Travel Grant which will allow me to visit Smith College and view the Sylvia Plath archives housed there!! This is such a huge thrill because not only are Plath's archives held at Smith, but for those not in the know - Sylvia Plath attained her undergraduate degree and taught at Smith also! To have the opportunity to walk the paths she walked, look at the buildings she would have looked at and generally immerse myself in all things Sylvia is such an honour. I'm still speechless! I also hope to meet the brilliant Karen Kukil who edited "The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath" and is one of the biggest Sylvia Plath experts out there.

I aim to travel over to Smith (which is a few hours outside Boston, Massachusetts) towards the end of September and hope to stay for around one month. I really enjoy travelling in America and although I've been to Boston once before, I'm looking forward to seeing it all again. Being Irish, I've always felt a connection with Boston for some reason.. I think it must be to do with the Kennedys;) But I honestly cannot believe how lucky I am and am so grateful to my funding body!

Getting this Travel Grant has really spurred me on in terms of study. I had a very successful meeting with my supervisor last Friday and I think we are at last on the same page. I am honestly loving my PhD so much at the moment. When I cast my mind back to last year and how utterly depressed I was in my secretarial job.. it feels like I am a completely different person now (a different Self - or am I reading too much SP??). I know that the way the economy is right now means that no job is guaranteed and I may well have to go back to admin once I finsh up; but I am just so happy to get these opportunities to find out more about my favourite poet of all time :)

Again, I think it's important to note here (from a graduate student-lifestyle perspective) how necessary it is to spend time with friends. I had been working flat out getting ready for my Transfer of Status viva and then a bunch of friends and I decided to go to a music festival in Kilkenny and it really was a great idea! Too much alcohol was consumed, songs were sung and fun was had but if you can't balance hard work with serious fun, then what is life for?! Here are some photos from my weekend as I realised I haven't posted any pictures of myself or my friends so far on this blog!

A view of Kilkenny Castle, from the main street of the city.

Two of my best friends, Gavin and Catriona catch up on Royal Wedding gossip on the Saturday of the festival!

Gavin and myself pose for a quick photo:)

We all had a brilliant weekend and saw a lot of great music acts. Some were relatively unknown and then others like Beth Orton and the Drive-By Truckers did not disappoint! All in all, it was a great weekend and really left me happy and refreshed, ready to return to the sometime loneliness of study:)

This weekend however, I started reading A Lover of Unreason: The Biography of Assia Weevil which really upset me. Being a Sylvia Plath devotee through and through, it was very difficult to wade through accounts of Ted Hughes and his bad treatment of Sylvia. So much so, it made me care very little for Assia, less so for Hughes and angry for Sylvia. Such thoughts and feelings have no place in an academic realm so I do try to suppress them. "A Lover of Unreason" is tough reading and quite upsetting, to be frank. I thought about doing a book review of it because I'm sure there are people interested in Assia that have not read her biography. If there is interest, I will do a review but if not, I feel like casting this sad tale and marginally manipulative book aside.


Peter K Steinberg said...

Maeve - congrats on the travel grant. If you'd like, I can drive you from Boston to Smith (and back when you're done).

I would love to hear more of your take on Koren and Negev's biography of Assia Wevill. I agree with you, but I actually enjoyed learning more about her and while her actions are unspeakable (I've always said that Ted Hughes taught me everything I know about relationships), I did find the biography well written and the woman more interesting than I previously thought. in some ways I think A Lover of Unreason reminds me of Bitter Fame: both books present flawed sides of their subjects.


Zoe said...

Oh my god oh my god oh my god!
You must be unbelievably excited? It must have made your year... it will keep you inspired all summer?

I think I may read that book now... I've always sort of avoided finding out more about that section of her life but it slightly intriguing obviously that they spent fifteen years researching it. Why do you think it is manipulative? x

Rehan Qayoom said...

I would be delighted if you did post a review of A Lover of Unreason. I read it myself recently and as you say it was not a pleasant read. But I do believe it is an important biography in this field and quite an informative one.

The Plath Diaries said...

Thanks for your comments and congrats, everyone! I'm beyond excited!!

I will definitely post up a review of "A Lover of Unreason" but it may have to wait until after my Transfer of Status viva. But keep your eyes peeled!

koralimba said...

This is fantastic news! I can't wait to read all your entries once you get there. Well done!

Morgane said...

I would very much like a review of that book ! That sounds really interesting !

Jada said...

I love your blog! Sylvia Plath is my favorite :) Smith is a beautiful college! I go to school in Cambridge, I'm sort of near there.

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laura said...

maeve, i'd love to read your thoughts on that book!