Dear Juliette: Letters of May Sarton to Juliette Huxley

Susan Sherman, Editor, May Sarton, Author, Francis Huxley, Foreword by W. W. Norton & Company $29.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-393-04733-2
The letters that American poet and novelist Sarton wrote to Swiss-born sculptor Juliette Baillot Huxley are witty, passionate and soul-baring. The two first met in England in 1936, when Sarton, 24, became captivated by Juliette, 39, even while embarking on an affair with Juliette's famous husband, Julian Huxley (brother of novelist Aldous Huxley), a zookeeper, peace activist and the first director general of UNESCO. While their romance was a matter openly shared with Juliette, Sarton's deep love for Juliette remained a secret. ""There was perhaps one week only of physical intimacy"" between the two women, according to Sherman (who edited Sarton's Selected Letters), yet this was a true union of souls, as the letters--lyrical, effusive, profound, uninhibited--make abundantly clear. Sarton helps Juliette through the war years, muses on the difficulty of self-acceptance, offers a constant flow of sharp opinions and impressions on art, politics, people. Her letters are strewn with her musical, crystalline poems, some never before published. She frequently quotes writers who nourished her imagination--Yeats, Rilke, Proust, Virginia Woolf, Valery. We catch glimpses of Sarton's circle of friends, among them poet Muriel Rukeyser (with whom she lived during the 1940s), novelist Rebecca West, imagist poet Hilda Doolittle, Paris-based American journalist Janet Flanner. Juliette broke off their relationship after Sarton threatened to tell all to Julian. After a 27-year silence, Sarton resumed their correspondence in 1976, months after Julian's death. In a tenderly affectionate foreword, Francis Huxley, son of Julian and Juliette, recalls Sarton's last visit to his mother, then age 97 (Juliette died in 1994, Sarton in 1995). An appendix includes two dozen of Juliette's letters to Sarton. Photos. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/31/1999
Release date: 06/01/1999
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