menu Language Is A Virus

Writer May Sarton's Later Appeal, NYTimes Book Review 1997

Though having published a substantial body of novels and poetry -- 15 books of poetry, 19 novels, 13 memoirs and journals -- May Sarton had a limited number of readers to show for it. However, Sarton finally found her audience in her late 50's when she published "Plant Dreaming Deep" (1968), a memoir of her years living alone in a Vermont village. "Plant Dreaming Deep" was followed by "Journal of a Solitude," which in its turn was followed by yet another solitary musing in a different setting (now Maine), followed by self-scrutinies entitled "Recovering," "At Seventy," "After the Stroke," "Endgame," "Encore" and, then, the posthumous "At Eighty-two."

Sarton was born in Belgium, just before World War I, the only daughter of parents (George and his English wife, Mabel). From the beginning, Sarton's mother fled her, repeatedly leaving her with friends, relatives or anyone who could be persuaded to take her. With the outbreak of war in Belgium, the family fled to England, then America.

It has been theorized that Sarton's sexuality was tied to her need to replace a usually absent mother. Lending some support to this idea is the fact that Sarton frequently fell in love with older women .

In the final entry of "Encore," she noted: "People often think that I give myself away in these journals written for publication. They do not realize apparently that large areas of my life are never mentioned," For the "important" side of her life, she observed, the intimate side, "readers have to go to the novels." May Sarton passed away in 1995.

The New York Times Book Review, April 6, 1997 pg. 9