Is dying really an art?

“F. Scott Fitzgerald used to claim that he wrote with ‘the authority of failure,’ and he did. It was a source of power in his later work. But the authority of failure is but a pale shadow of the authority of suicide, as we feel it in Ariel and in The Bell Jar. This is not so much because Sylvia Plath, in taking her own life, gave her readers a certain ghoulish interest they could not bring to most poems and novels, though this is no doubt partly true. It is because she knew that she was ‘Lady Lazarus.’ Her works do not only come to us posthumously. They were written posthumously. Between suicides. She wrote her novel and her Ariel poems feverishly, like a person ‘stuck together with glue’ and aware that the glue was melting. Should we be grateful for such things? Can we accept the price she paid for what she has given us? Is dying really an art?”


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