Journal of a Solitude Summary
by May Sarton

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Journal of a Solitude Summary

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

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In Journal of a Solitude, Sarton explores significant issues in her life through the creative form of the journal. To Sarton, the journal is not to be confused with the diary. In the journal, the writer reflects upon experiences and analyzes the details of daily living. To Sarton, writing a journal means examining her life, putting herself in touch with priorities in her life (friends, work, gardening), reflecting upon the imbalances in her personal and creative life, and, most important, clarifying and resolving aspects of her sense of self.

Entries in Journal of a Solitude begin September, 1970, and end September, 1971. At the beginning of the journal, she examines a dominant theme in her life: the conflict between the opposing forces of solitude and society. She acknowledges the strains of public appearances and social engagements and recalls the times she yielded to the onslaught of personal inquiries and unwanted visits. These, she declares, are not part of her “real life.” For Sarton, who has always lived alone as an adult, real life means engaging in a process of reclaiming the self and finding a creative center from which new life can spring. In many respects she welcomes solitude, because in spite of its recurring loneliness, depression, and rage, solitude provides a source of energy and vitality to stimulate her creativity.

Sarton settles down in the fall of the year to renew herself in solitude. She realizes that after publication of Plant Dreaming Deep in 1968, she was “discovered” by many who viewed her as a seer or sage, someone who seemed “above” emotional frailty. She wrote Journal of a Solitude to reveal a May Sarton who faces daily the struggles between solitude and society, joy and despair, companionship and loneliness.

Love and creativity are closely allied in Sarton’s life. She comments several times on the rejuvenating power of love in an affair with someone she refers to only as “X.” This relationship spurs a creative breakthrough in her writing of poetry. Other high points in the year include the publication of her latest novel, Kinds of Love (1970); reunions...

(The entire section is 547 words.)