MAY SARTON: Selected Letters, 1955–1995

May Sarton, Author, Susan Sherman, Editor, Warren Keith Wright, Foreword by . Norton $37.95 (447p) ISBN 978-0-393-05111-7

"[W]ho do I write for? Certainly not only for women... I guess I write for sensitive human beings wherever they are, however young or old, and of whatever sex. But I do not write for academic critics, that's sure. Nor do they like what I write. It is a mutual lack of interest." Her regret over the lateness of critical acclaim for her work is among the revelations about the prolific (with more than 50 books to her credit) and beloved Sarton, poet, novelist and diarist. In a note of appreciation, her friend William Drake says Sarton the letter writer was always swift, candid, blustery, boisterous and even defensive, but, he sums up, "the most difficult people can be the most worth knowing and treasuring." Sherman (who also edited May Sarton: Selected Letters, 1916–1954) presents 200 of the thousands of letters Sarton wrote in the latter part of her life to a wide range of friends, relatives and readers. These letters are best read in conjunction with each of Sarton's published works as they were written and released; Sherman hopes fans and newcomers alike will be left with a clearly delineated self-portrait of the writer and the woman: while writing, both her own and others', is the primary focus of Sarton's correspondence, readers also witness her difficulty in accepting criticism, as well as her generosity and humanity toward friends, strangers and the world at large. Nothing, including her own inner workings, escapes Sarton's scrutiny and consideration. Entertaining, insightful and not the least bit sentimental, Sarton's letters provide a complex yet clear composite of a singularly bright mind. 16 pages of photos not seen by PW. Agent, Timothy Seldes, Russell & Volkening. (Apr.)

Forecast:The price of this seems steep, but that may not deter Sarton's devoted readers, of whom there are many.

Reviewed on: 04/01/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 82 pages - 978-0-393-30535-7
Hardcover - 416 pages - 978-0-393-03954-2
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-89845-597-7
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