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Anne Sexton: A Biography

A book by Diane Middlebrook

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A well rounded biography of a great confessional poet.

  • Jan 21, 2000
Rating:
+3
Diane Wood Middlebrook's biography of Anne Sexton was balanced and insightful enough so as not to be too intrusive; it is simple and direct, as I believe this biography ought to be. It could be much more. True. But that would somehow seem indecent. It is a written work that will tantalize many readers to want to know more of Sexton's earlier life and later chaotic often disgusting behavior. Anne Sexton did indeed have some major psychological problems. She envied Sylvia Plath's suicide and inflicted mental abuse on her family that trangressed the boundries of chaotic. She has often been criticized for the themes that she used in her poetry: her mental breakdowns, her severe shortcomings as a wife and mother, her liberal use of female bodily sexuality, her 'womanism' and other scattered amorphous problems that she endured but that is not fully covered with very much depth in this work. To deny Sexton's mentle problems or attribute her abhorrent behavior to simple staments that she 'wanted attention' is to cast away the deamons that led her to commit suicide in the first place or write the highly noted poems "The Operation" in All My Pretty Ones, for which she garnered a National Book Award nomination or "Mother And Jack And The Rain" or "Menstruation At Forty" in Live or Die, for which she won the 1967 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. This biography has also been condemmed for the use of private conversations that Sexton had with her psychiatrist, Dr. Martin Orne, a fact that had and still does many in the profession gravely unhappy. In the forward and book jacket to The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton by her friend and fellow poet, Maxine Kumin, she states: "The stuff of Anne's life, mercilessly dissected, is here in the poems. Of all the confessional poets, none has had quite Sexton's 'courage to make a clean breast of it' ...Anne Sexton has earned her place in the cannon." Whatever her morals (or lack of them) or major priorities which always came second, she was one hell of a fantastic, little understood poet who truly added something unique to the genre.

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More Anne Sexton: A Biography reviews
review by . May 12, 2013
A well rounded biography of a great confessional poet.
Diane Wood Middlebrook's biography of Anne Sexton was balanced and insightful enough so as not to be too intrusive; it is simple and direct, as I believe this biography ought to be. It could be much more. True. But that would somehow seem indecent. It is a written work that will tantalize many readers to want to know more of Sexton's earlier life and later chaotic often disgusting behavior. Anne Sexton did indeed have some major psychological problems. She envied Sylvia Plath's suicide …
About the reviewer
Christian Engler ()
Ranked #685
Not much to say; my info section and likes pretty much says it all. Cheers.
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About this book

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Middlebrook's balanced biography reconstructs the life of the late poet in extraordinary detail. Photos. New afterword. Author tour . ( Nov. )no mention of controversy over use of tapes, and ensuing bestsellerdom? surely this is what new afterword is about/we don't have information on this/also it never hit PW's bestseller list/pk
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Details

ISBN-10: 0679741828
ISBN-13: 978-0679741824
Author: Diane Middlebrook
Publisher: Vintage

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