Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes
Critics also divide along national lines. American critics, with such exceptions as Slate's Christopher Benfey, say that Hughes' poems are not very perceptive and not at all introspective. They especially take him to task for blaming Plath's suicide on fate and astrology. Britons, however, trumpet their poet laureate as worthy of the ranks of "Blake, Keats, Hardy and Auden" (the Times of London). They like that Birthday Letters combines Hughes' trademark violence--dying animals, stormy moors--with his compassion for Plath and introspection. Others take more pot shots at Plath defenders. James Fenton in the New York Review of Books says, " 'Plath lovers' will never forgive Hughes for having been Plath's lover--a role which in their fantasies they would much better fill."
Franklin Foer is editor at large of the New Republic. He is the author of How Soccer Explains the World.