Monday, March 23, 2009

Sylvia Plath's Son Kills Himself

According to the Guardian, Sylvia Plath's son, Nicholas Hughes, 47, hung himself at his Alaskan home after years of dealing with depression. His mother the famous poet and novelist, Sylvia Plath committed suicide when her son was a baby. Plath is the author of The Bell Jar, a novel that is loosely based on her own life during the time that she was an intern at Mademoiselle, a fashion magazine in New York City. It was first published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The book depicts the magazine internship, the nervous breakdown and eventual hospitalisation of the main character, Esther.

Coming from a genetic background of mental illness myself, one wonders how much we pass on to our children and what was passed on to us. I can't say I haven't kept a keen eye open for the beast waiting for me around the corner, it's yet to appear in its full armor, thankfully. I feel inappropriately sad for Nicholas Hughes. I, of course, didn't know him, but somehow I feel an attachment, a sadness, as if a friend has died. I'm suddenly fearful too. Unexplainable really.

I pulled out my copy of The Bell Jar. Like most writers, Plath had glorious times of praise and awards and heart-wrenchingly, sad times when uncertainty ruled made worse by her unsteady mind. In 1970, Syliva Plath's mother, Aurelia Plath, wrote of her daughter's ideas behind The Bell Jar. She remembered her saying, " What I've done is to throw together events from my own life, fictionalising to add colour- it's a pot boiler really, but I think it will show how isolated a person feels when he is suffering a breakdown.... I've tried to picture my world and the people in it as seen though the distorting lens of a bell jar". Later she said, "To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream."


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Dear Lauri,
you should not be afraid,that your children may become mentally uncapable as you as far as know are married to a man,who was born in Botswana and you,my dear...far away in USA.
Usually such deseases are genetically inherited and occur in the same family.
As for Sylvia Plath she had a bad luck with a man,who treated her very badly.

Lauri said...

It's true, Rosie, Sylvia Plath's marriage was often not a happy one.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lauri,

after watching "African Voices" on CNN I fell in love with Botswana and would like to visit this country.
I have lived in California,New York,Long Island and twice in Dallas,Texas and have travelled to all North African countries but not South of Sudan.
You wrote many books...are some published in Germany?
If I could help you with finding a German publisher,I will do it.

Usually i am busy with a legal stuff but I am fed up reading "The Economist" or "Business week",therefore I would like to read some of your books,if i knew how to find them.

I shall write you an e-mail and we could talk about this.

Lauri said...

What a kind offer! My publishing experience, at least for books, is only in Botswana, so no none of my books have been published in Germany.The books I believe might have an international audience might be my detective novellas and my children's book- Mmele and the Magic Bones.

I'm so happy you like Botswana. I think you would really enjoy visiting, we have so many beautiful places for tourists.

Anonymous said...

Good morning,Lauri!

I just wanted to leave and go to the city but there is a SNOW storm outside,therefore I decided to write you an e-mail.

I want to order one or two of your books in a book store here.
Which one you would recomend?
The bookstore is called:"Hugendubel"(like Baarns&Noble or Borders) they have huuuuuuuuuuge CHILDREN books department.
If your children book is translated they might sell it.

They are selling also books (fiction) in English.

Who is a distributor for your books?

Actually all your post on THIS BLOG,you could bind in a book,named

"Botswana dreaming" and publish it.

And do NOT hesitate to argue with Batswana...they EXPECT you to argue with them!
I know this as I was born in Bulgaria and visit also CYPRUS very often...the Mediterrenian people also love to argue and disscuss.
When the Btswana say:"It is our culture!" simply continue talking what the advantages of changing atitudes are.

JUST do not say the CULTURE MUST be changes!
I must go to the office now.

Enjoy the day!

P.S.I have been to Pennsylvania but NOT Meryland.

Anonymous said...

I felt sad when I heard of his death. Makes me think of things like family curses and predestination.

I come from a family where depression is endemic and I wonder if my son will also suffer from it. I will find it hard to bear if he does as I know I will blame myself.

I also didn't know Nicholas Hughes but I felt a twinge when I heard the news. I guess it was just a shared experience thing.