397 Plath, Hughes, and the “Other Woman” – Assia Wevill and Her Writings (with Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick and Peter Steinberg)

In 1961, poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath rented their flat to a Canadian poet and his wife, the beautiful, accomplished, and slightly mysterious Assia Wevill. Soon afterward, Ted and Assia began having an affair. Within a year, Assia was pregnant with Ted’s child and Sylvia, after years of suffering from depression, had committed suicide. Six years later, Assia would do the same.

It’s a horribly tragic tale, like something out of Shakespeare, with genius and artistic ambition and love and sex and poetry entangled with themes of power dynamics, infidelity, and mental health problems. The poetic gifts of Ted and Sylvia – and the tragic ending of their marriage – has kept biographers and essay writers busy. But what about the third woman, Assia Wevill, a successful professional with ambition of her own? What did she write? How did she fit into this triangle? In this episode, Professor Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick and Peter Steinberg, editors of The Collected Writings of Assia Wevill, join Jacke for a discussion of the “Other Woman” in the Plath-Hughes marriage.

Additional listening ideas:

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124 James Joyce’s “The Dead” (Part 2)

In this second part of a two-part episode, we look at the resounding conclusion of James Joyce’s masterpiece “The Dead,” which contains some of the finest prose ever written in the English language. Be warned: this episode, which runs from Gabriel’s speech to the final revelatory scene, contains spoilers. But don’t let that stop you! Read the story first (if you want), then come back and listen to the episode – and hear the song that launched a thousand complex thoughts in Gabriel (and a million college theme papers for everyone else).

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

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