May Sarton

May Sarton, Author, Susan Sherman, Editor W. W. Norton & Company $35 (416p) ISBN 978-0-393-03954-2
""More than kisses,"" John Donne wrote, ""letters mingle souls."" And very few letters can have been more open, more anxious to mingle, than those of May Sarton's. Her carefully crafted volumes of poetry, the novels elegant with insistent intent, the autobiographical works of later years are all rich with the intellect sentience. However, the wide-ranging emotional journey of these letters, so admirably edited by Sherman, may finally bring Sarton the wider renown she always felt eluded her. An ardent correspondent since childhood, Sarton is free in in her declarations of love and longings, her revelations of urgencies to earn a living and uncertainties of life as a writer. The letters include Sarton's feelings about current issues; her wartime fears for the Europe where she was born; her anguish over love affairs gone awry; her dogmatic views; her illnesses, as well as what some recipients felt to be a claustrophobic demanding love. Long letters to the international group of writers, artists, political and scientific thinkers whom Sarton included in her epistolary ""festival of friends,"" are often so utterly candid as to be overwhelming, exhausting. One artist and lifelong friend noted that a letter from Sarton was ""a bloodrush,"" that he needed to ""take to a private place and savour it alone, like a wonderful meal."" Yet in her craft Sarton was aware of the need to be sparing in written thought: ""Poetry is not an orchid, but a crocus. Simplicity is the essence of poetry."" Sarton may have devoted most of her life to her crocuses, but this final collection is a different though equally beautiful greenhouse of orchids. (May)
Reviewed on: 06/16/1997
Release date: 06/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 83 pages - 978-1-55504-364-3
Hardcover - 978-0-393-02340-4
Paperback - 82 pages - 978-0-393-30535-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-89845-597-7
Hardcover - 447 pages - 978-0-393-05111-7
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