(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Recovering: A Journal chronicles a year in the life of May Sarton as she deals with the loss of a thirty-five-year relationship, depression, and a mastectomy. The journal was begun December 28, 1978. Her elderly partner, Judy, has been in a nursing home for seven years, her health deteriorating and her senility worsening. The depression caused by the loss of this relationship has been exacerbated by a stingingly negative review of Sarton’s newest novel, A Reckoning (1978), in a major newspaper.

In this journal, Sarton shares her feelings of failure and the fear that she no longer has anything to “look forward to with a leap of the heart. What I have lost this past year is the sense of destiny, the belief that what I have to offer as a human being in love or as a writer . . . is worthy.”

Despite her long relationship with Judy, Sarton had lived alone for twenty years, writing extensively about solitude. Sarton notes that her journals are read most fervently by widows and by young people who have not yet committed to a career or a love relationship. Concerned that she may present a poor role model to young people, who often misinterpret her life as easier than it is, she reprints a two-page letter she wrote to one young woman, in which she clarifies her feelings about commitment and lesbianism. “There has to be commitment somewhere or life has no meaning. Can one be committed simply to oneself? I think not. . . . I...

(The entire section is 419 words.)


(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Suggested Readings

Ballentine, Sheila. “Something Helpless That Needs Help.” The New York Times Book Review, October 17, 1982, 14, 37-38.

Hunting, Constance, ed. May Sarton: Woman and Poet. Orono, Maine: National Poetry Foundation, 1992.

Sarton, May. May Sarton: Among the Usual Days, a Portrait. Edited by Susan Sherman. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.

Sibley, Agnes. May Sarton. New York: Twayne, 1972.