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'I could hardly speak' : dialogues in the poetry of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes

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Imbuido, IA 2002 , ''I could hardly speak' : dialogues in the poetry of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This thesis examines an extraordinary dialogue between the poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. My methodology uses Hughes's Birthday Letters as a limit case when approaching Plath's oeuvre, focussing on intertextual examples that solidify my arguments of a dialogue which began when the poets met and continued after Plath's death. Often a dialogue is signalled when a poem by each writer shares the same title. On other occasions, a shared biographical event is re-visioned separately by Plath and Hughes. Though I refer to biographical material when relevant, my focus is on the poetry.
Working through a theory of dialoguic intertextuality — arrived at through Charles Balditin's dialogic theory, Julia Kristeva's theory of intertextuality and Gerard Genette's theories of metatextuality and hypertextuality — I define dialoguic intertextuality as a sequential and subjective interchange of ideas between texts and the authors of those texts. The text, part of the author's created personae, replaces or supplements conversations that refer to a known and shared system of knowledge — biographical events, for example — thus becoming further embedded in a subsequent text.
This thesis questions several of Hughes's decisions as Plath's literary executor, uncovering instances of dubious textual borrowing and even theft. I argue that Hughes, when compared with Plath, is far more strident in representing the couple's power struggles over textual ownership, and gender and national difference. Their work addresses creation and creativity (particularly creation of life versus creation of poetry), birth, death and rebirth. The poets' preoccupations with parental roles and the suppression and revelation of perceived truths in their poetry are also discussed.
Hughes often inserted biographical elements in his poetry that are all but obscured in Plath's work. While Hughes's poetry insists on his version of truth about key events of their lives, Plath's poetry resists his readings. As a tangible outcome of their dialogue, these insistences and resistances form the foundation of this thesis.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Imbuido, IA
Keywords: Plath, Sylvia, Hughes, Ted, 1930
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Copyright 2002 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (MA)--University of Tasmania, 2002. Includes bibliographical references

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