Before and After a Poet's Suicide: The Reception of Sylvia Plath

Few modern authors have been the object of such intense interest as the American poet Sylvia Plath. In critical reception, there is a notable before-and-after division. Before she killed herself, reviewers mainly commented on literary aspects of her work. When the reason for her death became known, her personal story overshadowed the aesthetic evaluation of the two books she saw into print herself, as well as the many posthumous titles published in her name. Sylvia Plath thus demonstrates the relevance of Boris Tomashevsky’s argument in “Literature and Biography” (1923), that it is essential to consider how the biography of a poet operates in readers’ consciousness. The important thing is not the factual life and whether the perception of it is correct, but how the image of an author affects the understanding of her work. Tomashevsky distinguishes between “writers with biographies” and “writers without biographies,” between those who are the subject of anecdotes and biographical stories and those who are unknown to the public or appear as neutral. Poets moving from one category to the other, like Plath did, make for interesting study. Her case also raises a number of ethical questions.

Must Printed Books Become a Thing of the Past in Academic Libraries?

The preferences of undergraduate and graduate students are examined for print and electronic resources including books, journals, magazines, newspapers, and comics, both in terms of leisure reading and reading undertaken for academic purposes. Concerns about e-book-only library collection policies are raised. Results are surprising given that libraries increasingly emphasize e-books and journals in lieu of print. The surveyed student prefer receiving content of perceived lasting value in the form of textbooks and other works in print form, but that when content is perceived as having short-term value only, such as matter appearing in newspapers, journal, and magazine articles, the digital format is seen as more apropos. Digital and print are still seen as having their respective advantages and disadvantages. It can be concluded that printed books should not be seen as “things of the past” in academic libraries.

The New Best Sellers: Implications of Media Convergence for Best-Seller Theory

As a result of increasing media convergence and the emergence of new formats and outlets for literature, the best-seller terminology needs to be revisited and revised. This article examines the best-seller theory against the backdrop of the current publishing environment and brings a new perspective to the ongoing debate on what constitutes a best seller. The author discusses the validity of formerly established criteria such as region, medium, and outlet and argues in favour of a more comprehensive understanding of the best-seller phenomenon. The article provides an overview of the contributions in this field and the existing best-seller terminology, drawing on the works of Escarpit, Sutherland, Bloom, Grøn, Helgason, Kärrholm, and Steiner. To reflect the changes in the publishing environment and the consequently more complex constellation of best-seller criteria, the study specifies and adds to the terminology of the field.