Fixed Stars Govern a Life
Decoding Sylvia Plath
Literary Criticism - Literary Studies - Poetry - Women's Studies
6 x 9, 408 pp.
Index, bib., 22 color illustrations
Pub Date: 01/06/2015
  paper
Price:        $40.00

978-1-62288-064-5

Published by Stephen F. Austin University Press

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Fixed Stars Govern a Life

Decoding Sylvia Plath

Julia Gordon-Bramer

It has never been a secret that Sylvia Plath and her husband Ted Hughes dabbled in the occult and mysticism. Plath wrote of tarot cards, Ouija boards, astrology, crystal gazing, and much more. Hughes’ work has been widely explored in this light, yet in the fifty years since Plath’s death, no one thought to approach her work in this way.

In Fixed Stars Govern a Life: Decoding Sylvia Plath, volume one, author Julia Gordon-Bramer aligns Plath’s great poetry collection, Ariel, with the tarot and Qabalah opening it up to entirely new—and quite obvious meanings.

--Understand Plath’s Jewish imagery references the Qabalah (Kabbalah/Cabala), ancient Jewish mysticism
--Understand how Plath’s Holocaust, color, and chemical imagery connects to Jungian alchemy and shamanism
--Understand Plath’s concern for African-American, Native American, Women’s, and even LGBT’s civil rights, as well as her fear of the Cold War and nuclear annihilation and how she wove these themes into Ariel
--Appreciate the historical, scientific, and artistic correspondences that support Plath’s themes and thus “cast a spell” on the reader, resonating on all levels of consciousness to explain Sylvia Plath’s timelessness

This is volume one of Fixed Stars Govern a Life: Decoding Sylvia Plath, exploring the first 22 poems in Ariel: The Restored Edition, from “Morning Song” through to “The Courage of Shutting-Up,” as they reflect the tarot deck’s major arcana cards.

JULIA GORDON-BRAMER is an award-winning poet and prose writer, a professor of creative writing and humanities, and a professional tarot card reader. In 2013 she was voted St. Louis’ Best Local Poet by the Riverfront Times, and she is listed as one of St. Louis’ Top Ten Psychics. Julia received her Master of Fine Arts in both poetry and fiction from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

What Readers Are Saying:

"A wonderful exploration of Plath's Ariel poems in relation to myth, symbol, and the creative process."—Kathleen Connors, author of Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath’s Art of the Visual (2007, Oxford University Press)

“Like her beloved Yeats, Sylvia Plath was drawn to numerous and often contradictory systems of belief and ways of knowing, including mystical and magical systems. Julia Gordon-Bramer, in her dazzling and meticulously researched book, shows us how Sylvia Plath may have drawn upon the images of the tarot to fuse and merge the many ways of knowing she was so profoundly inspired by—myth, science, current events, folklore, alchemy, literature, motherhood, art and other sources to create the poems in Ariel, one of the great literary achievement of the 20th century. In doing so, Julia Gordon-Bramer illuminates, expands on, and asks profound questions about the very nature of making and creating poems.”—Catherine Bowman, winner of the Peregrine Smith Poetry Prize, the Kate Tufts Discovery Award for Poetry, the Dobie Paisano Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, four Yaddo Fellowships, and author of The Plath Cabinet (2009, Four Way), and other collections.

"With clarity and erudition, Ms. Gordon-Bramer illuminates how Plath's masterpiece Ariel reflects a clear and intentional alignment with the Tarot and the Qabalah's Tree of Life. With each poem, and the collection as a whole, Gordon-Bramer weaves the esoteric mysteries with historical interpretation in a fascinating scholarly analysis that is original, provocative, magical. Fixed Stars Govern a Life is an incantation of great resonance and power, and its publication will be a sensation."—Susan L. Woods, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Women's Studies, Eastern Illinois University

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