Sarton Selected: An Anthology of the Journals, Novels, and Poems of May Sarton

Bradford Dudley Daziel, Author, May Sarton, Author W. W. Norton & Company $22.95 (390p) ISBN 978-0-393-02968-0
This inspiriting collection gathers Sarton's zestful journals, fiction, essays on her craft, and the poetry--taut, formal and passionate--for which she is best known. Sarton, who will be 79 on publication daynifty! , writes of solitude, of ardent love and friendship, houses and gardens, painting and music, and the erotic act of art--as in her poems ``The Consummation'' and ``The Lady and the Unicorn.'' Her animal poems are poignant, often making application to humans; in ``Of Molluscs'' lovers, too, are ``shelled up in fears.'' Sarton explores age, sickness (in the novel A Reckoning ), even death as thresholds of deepening experience: the subjects of the poem ``Old Lovers at the Ballet'' find in themselves that ``the soul is a lithe and serene athlete.'' The narrator of ``My Father's Death'' compares her bereavement to a ship's being ``gently set free, / The landlocked, launched,'' and announces that she has ``slipped out from the embracing shore''' into new life. Poems of grief include a brilliant sestina, ``The Concentration Camps,'' with its unrelenting evocation of dead children's shoes. Westbrook College professor Daziel's gauche introduction dwells on Sarton's detractors, presuming the critical ``fate of May Sarton'' will be as a celebrant of ``traditionally female values (e.g. nurture) as opposed to someone like Joseph Conrad''--a wildly inept equation, for Sarton offers universally humane reflections in a feast of words. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1991
Release date: 05/01/1991
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