MAY SARTON by May Sarton


Vol. I: Selected Letters, 1916-1954
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 Charged with energy and with a cast of characters that includes major 20th-century literati, this is the first volume of what will likely be a massive compendium of Sarton's letters. Sarton was a copious letter writer; according to Sherman (who edited a miscellany of Sarton's writings, Among the Usual Days) she set aside Sunday mornings for her correspondence, ``a religious service devoted to friendship.'' This book begins with some childish notes to her father that foreshadow the direct and revealing style of her later missives. At 15, she was writing to Eva Le Gallienne, declaring her dream of being an actress and pleading for Le Gallienne's advice and help. The direct approach worked; Sarton went on to be associated with Le Gallienne's acting company for many years. Many of the letters collected here are to her parents, from whom she was frequently separated, even as a child. They often discuss money problems but also celebrate such events as the first publication of her poems. Other correspondents include Elizabeth Bowen, Julian Huxley (her lover before Sarton fell in love with his wife, Juliette), Virginia Woolf, Louise Bogan, Diana Trilling, Marianne Moore, and Muriel Rukeyser, some of whom were her lovers. The letters to them and to less well-known friends, brimming with enthusiasm, are full of news of acquaintances, of books and poems, of critics and reviews, of dinners and teas, of Atlantic crossings, and of love and longing for friends from whom she is separated. She shares delight at accomplishments, disappointment at setbacks, and eloquent descriptions of place. Included is a rather startling (in context) letter to Bogan discussing women's homosexual relationships. In the letters of the 1950s, the resentments that colored some of Sarton's journals begin to surface. Also included in this volume is an appendix of unpublished poems, and some letters in the original French. Certainly a must for Sarton scholars, but also a pleasure for Sarton's loyal readers. (50 photos, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-393-03954-4
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1997


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